Radiohead, on the other hand, is probably the band who has most defined the true meaning of alternative. More than just about anyone operating at their level, they alone have made the music that most consistently defies convention, and despite their success, doesn't adhere to any single commercial formula.
One of the biggest rubs on Radiohead's post-OK Computer work has been the rather detached and icy-sounding feel of studio albums like Kid A and the more recent King Of Limbs. What fans will tell you about this band though, is that their live performances represent the polar opposite of this.
In concert, Radiohead runs as hot as their records do cold. This is even true, oddly enough, when they are performing the very same material from those albums, as seen here on a considerably sped-up version of "Morning Mr. Magpie" from The King Of Limbs on the ACL broadcast:
But despite the dazzling lights and high production values of these shows (which are easily the most spectacular in all of rock and roll), Radiohead still play by their own set of rules, and their setlists often emphasize obscure and otherwise unreleased material. For these reasons, the no-limits format of ACL proved a perfect fit for Radiohead, and they took full advantage of it — though not necessarily in the ways that you might expect.
At times, Radiohead's ACL set played almost like an old episode of MTV Unplugged. For veterans of this band's big-arena shows, it had to be a little weird to see them play without all of the big LED lighting effects, TV screens and other visual accoutrements for one thing.
But this wasn't the only thing that gave the ACL experience an all-around "smaller" feeling. Perhaps owing to the HD visual presentation, and especially to the pristine, squeaky-clean sound mixing, there was just a much more organic feel than one normally associates with a Radiohead concert.
The up close and personal camera shots — whether it was Jonny Greenwood banging furiously away at his guitar, or Thom Yorke's famously wandering eye — were certainly one major factor. But the exquisite sound separation also allowed for a rare birds-eye view into what actually makes up the various layers of Radiohead's densely layered music.