Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Radiohead @ Nissan: You Both Suck

The weather on Sunday was anything but good. Actually, that's being generous. It was a monsoon. But that didn't stop scads of adoring Radiohead fans from making the trek to the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia on Sunday.

I swore years ago that I would never return to Nissan Pavilion. I can say, without hyperbole, that it's the worst venue in the entire country. I have never been anywhere that created an overall less pleasant experience. Just about everything is wrong:

  • It's at least 40 miles from downtown DC.
  • There is absolutely no chance of getting there by public transportation.
  • It involves driving on I-66, usually during rush hour, which ranks slightly above being waterboarded, and slightly below watching C-SPAN, in my list of least favorite forms of torture
  • The last several miles into the venue are on tiny, local roads which inevitably are a mess.
  • It has never taken me less than 2 hours to get out of the parking lot after a show, because of the previous point and awful traffic management.
  • The sound sucks
  • Security are assholes

Basically, there's nothing good about it. I would rather see a show at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey. Actually, overall driving time is probably less, and it's a much nicer venue, with a great view of Philadelphia. Once you get over the fact that the only businesses in Camden are bail-bonds shops and you will be parked outside a maximum security prison, it's a far better experience than Nissan.

So, Radiohead has in recent times begun using their awesome uber-star power to do whatever the fuck they want. The first we saw of this was giving away their last album, Rainbows, for free or whatever you felt like paying for it. I thought this was pretty cool, actually, because I despise the old guard music industry and their desperate tactics to extort money from the very people who are their best customers. So when Radiohead made a gazillion dollars without even printing a single CD, I was impressed.

This time, they claim to be touring in some kind of eco-friendly fashion. On their web site Radiohead attempts to martyr themselves before their fans by claiming to have selected the venues based on a list of practical criteria that would result in the least carbon impact from their tour.

Richard, the Tour Production Manager says on May 1: The main issue is how the audience moves to and from the show. With the location and public transport links now a more significant factor when choosing venues, fans are being encouraged to think about alternative ways of travelling.

Take a look at the map to your left. This shows the relative locations of Washington DC, Baltimore, and the Nissan Pavilion. In Washington, DC are two perfectly acceptable venues for concerts - RFK Stadium and the MCI Center. MCI center has a capacity similar to Nissan Pavilion, and RFK Stadium can hold much more. Given Radiohead's ridiculous popularity, you'd think RFK would have been a perfect choice. Please note also the relative proximity of Baltimore, which you actually CAN get to by train.

Oh wait - but Live Nation is promoting the Radiohead tour, and of the three, Nissan Pavilion happens to be the only venue that is run by Live Nation!! Oh, crap. It looks like they left one thing off their list of "selection criteria" for identifying the venue that would result in the least environmental impact: Must be run by Live Nation.

But back to the actual disaster, er, show on Sunday. As it happened, it rained. A lot. Now that's hardly their fault, but it underscores just how crappy Nissan Pavilion is. From all over the blogosphere we see reports of wretched experiences:

mistiwalters (dcist): After thousands of cars waited in traffic for four hours, they were turned away because the concert was over by the time they got there. How's that for a carbon footprint?

IMGoph (dcist): 6-hour burger king run. that's what the trip to nissan turned into for me, my roommate, and his girlfriend.

pellucidity (dcist): We spent 3 hours in traffic... Arrived in Bristow at 7:30 and were turned away by the police at about 10:30... I'm not going back to Bristow.

headhot (consumerist): Because of the absolute clusterfuck that is Nissan Pavilion, we almost never go. If it were not Radiohead, and the fact that there were no other shows scheduled in 300 miles, we would have never considered going. After this mess, I don't think there is any band that could get us out there under any condition. Fuck the Pavilion.

Bottom line: Nissan Pavilion, you suck. Radiohead, you suck. And you're full of shit. If you gave even one tiny llama turd about environmental impact, you would never have scheduled a show at a venue 40 miles away from downtown DC, nowhere near public transportation of any kind, and also well known to take hours to exit the parking lot post-show (think: thousands of idling cars). See: here (dcist, pre-show), here (wapo - 4/15/05), here (random forum post from 2007). Finding gripes about Nissan Pavilion is about as hard as finding a lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

And, the ultimate insult, as Radiohead whines, "please carpool!!": There's a $6.00 parking fee charged on every ticket! Thanks a lot, assholes. We carpool, but we pay to park anyway.

I didn't go. I never even gave it a thought, even though I really like Radiohead's music and have wanted to see them for years. I feel bad for those who wasted their entire crappy Sunday in a car in the sticks in Virginia, but you should have known better. And Radiohead, you should have too.


Shannon said...

I've been blogging about this as well...I was there. What a dangerous, stupid, ridiculous mess.

Anonymous said...

If I knew beforehand about Nissan's reputation for the horrendous traffic control, I never would have gone. We decided to chance it and spent 3 hours in traffic just to catch the last 20 minutes of the show out on the lawn in the freezing rain. It was really sad.

Anonymous said...

Man are you a whiny cunt.

As if RH had anything to do with the weather or the fact that it costs $6 to park. Hey, why doesnt Thom Yorke just pay out of his pocket for your parking fees?

Jamie said...

Anonymous coward: Perhaps you didn't read what I wrote before commenting??

1) I SAID they had nothing to do with the weather. My point was they are a bunch of hypocrites for playing at Nissan in the FIRST place, since it completely violates all their so-called principles of an eco friendly tour.

2) Live Nation is promoting the tour. Live Nation runs Nissan. Yes, fool, they did have everything to do with that. You suppose one of the most popular bands on earth, who's playing at a place run by their own promoter, has no say whatsoever in the price of admission?


Anonymous said...

While they're at it, why doesn't Radiohead tell ticketmater/livenation to lower their "convenience" charges as well?

You idiots think business is so simple. Ticketmaster/LN OWNS the artists. PJ tried to fight them and lost. Radiohead is big but they're not like the Beatles getting together for a reunion. They can have riders and stuff all they want but money needs to be made at some level, both by the band and by the venue. How do you think the venue makes most of their profit? Concessions and parking. That's why they sometimes GIVE OUT FREE tickets to concerts that aren't sold out. Cause they will make money on parking, beer and hot dogs.

Everyone thinks that life is a massive conspiracy to take their money. Sometimes you gotta let people make a profit.

In all likelihood, RH had no say in the parking prices. Do you know even an iota of anything to do with the concert business? Some venues stipulate that you must use their stage technicians and such -- again because they don't operate a non-profit.

Think and get a clue about business before you start whining about shit. $6 for parking? Oooooh.

As for RH being hypocritical about their environmental awareness, sometimes it's the only venue that's available to them that meet certain criteria. If they passed over the DC area because of the fact that Nissan is in the middle of nowhere, you guys would be bitching about that.

Get a clue kid.

Jamie said...

Radiohead came out and said that they were selecting venues based on specific criteria of eco-friendliness. Alternative transportation was specifically noted as being of utmost importance.

So not only does Nissan have NO other way to get there but driving, but at the same time as Radiohead encourages fans to carpool, each PERSON pays to park rather than per car. Sorry, but that's a pretty bitter pill to swallow.

Here's the bottom line, oh great nameless expert of the music industry: if Radiohead has no power to control the venue selection and the pricing structure, then why the hell do they go around saying that they actively chose venues based on specific eco-friendly criteria? That is the definition of hypocrisy.

I don't care if they play on the moon and we all have to take the space shuttle there. Just don't tell me you're doing some kind of 'eco tour' if that's the case.

I never said there was a massive conspiracy to take my money. I said that Nissan Pavilion is a shitty venue, everyone knows that, and if you are promoting your tour as "eco friendly" then playing at Nissan is a joke. Plain and simple. I don't care how much you think you know about the music industry (and as now, your credentials are non-existent) but if you say one thing and do another then you are a hypocrite.

I have seen nobody come out and say they explored any alternatives. What was wrong with RFK or MCI center? As far as I can tell, the only thing wrong with them, is that they aren't run by Live Nation. If you have one shred of evidence to back up the notion that Nissan was the ONLY choice they could have made then I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...

I love how you throw the hypocrite label around and have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of Radiohead's tour planning. It's so easy to just sit there on your high horse and slag radiohead for this and that when you have absolutely no clue. They are doing their part to help the environment but they can't be perfect with every aspect of the tour. (You name any other big act that even attempts to take into account their carbon footprint when scheduling a tour.) So basically, in order to play a concert in the DC area, they chose a venue that kinda sucks and because of that they should be tarred and feathered for not choosing perfect eco-friendly venues everywhere on a worldwide tour? Please.

Why are they playing Camden instead of Philly when there are plenty of venues in Philly? Wouldn't all the people driving across the bridge waste gas, etc etc? Sometimes you just gotta take what business deals, contracts, and circumstances give you. It doesn't mean they're hypocrites. I'm not blindly defending radiohead and I don't really care about their environmental stance. What I can't stand is people who just go off on some rant about something they know nothing about. Consider it from the other person's point of view for once.

As for alternate venues, if those venues aren't owned by Live Nation, then that's a pretty big reason they didn't play there. And even if they were, perhaps radiohead simply doesn't like either venue. The sound can be shit in stadiums and arenas. They've earned that right.

RH has to find a balance between eco-friendly, pleasing the fans, and, you know, making some money touring. Are they perfect? No, but they are certainly doing a hell of a lot more than other acts so why don't you give em a fucking break?

Again, the price of parking per ticket has nothing to do with RH. I doubt Thom, Jonny, etc get together and say "Yeah, let's charge $6 per ticket at Nissan and $10 per at Tweeter." The venues and promoter dictate prices. $8 for a beer? Damn that Thom Yorke. He could've made them charge $2.50 like at my local dive.

People love to whine and complain but never ever take into account the whole picture. Sorry if the whole picture makes your stance look naive.

Jamie said...

Radiohead says (their words): "The main issue is how the audience moves to and from the show. With the location and public transport links now a more significant factor when choosing venues"

Radiohead does (in your words): "Sometimes you just gotta take what business deals, contracts, and circumstances give you."

So fine, whatever, do what you have to do. But if it's not POSSIBLE to have an eco-friendly tour then DON'T fucking call it an eco-friendly tour! How hard is this to understand?

I see absolutely no evidence that this tour is any more eco-friendly than any other tour NOT billed as eco-friendly put on by any other band. You just gave me another example yourself with Camden. So far on the venues we've analyzed, they are 0 for 2.

If you're going say you're taking a stand, then you better damn well take one. At least Pearl Jam canceled their tour when they couldn't find enough venues that weren't locked into Ticketmaster. I respect that. Radiohead, on the other hand, is claiming to be righteous but apparently not actually taking a stand of any kind. But as you say, business interests must prevail.

I guess being a fan boy like you means that your heroes can piss in your mouth and it'll still taste like wine.

Anonymous said...

hahah, i knew you'd throw in the "fan boy" label sooner or later. People losing arguments always do.

A "significant" factor doesn't mean it's the ONLY factor. Radiohead is bound to contracts and they have to play Live Nation venues. Is that so hard to understand?

I believe most people appreciate rh taking some (any) steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Like you said, radiohead is big. They can sell out any tour any where without saying they're "green." They would sell out even if they burned a big pile of styrofoam cups before every show. They don't NEED to do this but they are. I don't see how it's being hypocritical to try.


Why don't you read that and get off your high horse.


Fan Boy #1

Jamie said...

Umm, so I'm losing the argument because I accurately described you as a fan boy, Mr. "get a clue kid, get off your high horse?" Ahhh ha ha!! Sorry. Thank you, I needed a good laugh.

Why don't you start by looking up the word "hypocrite," and then read Radiohead's pre-tour press release:


"What we decided to do was to only play in places that have municipal transport systems in place or that we can persuade promoters to put on transport," he said.

Umm, yeah. So how exactly does "only playing" in such places fit in with Nissan Pavilion and Camden, New Jersey?

Dude, they lied. Get over it. And you still have not addressed a single one of my points but continue to make excuses for Radiohead. If you have a leg to stand on, then please tell me how this tour is any more eco-friendly than any other.

As far as only being able to play Live Nation venues, even it that's true - and I doubt it is, but I'd love to see a reference if you have one - then that's not exactly what they said when promoting the tour as eco-friendly, is it now?

I don't care what they said. Talk is cheap. That is the whole point. They said one thing and did another.

Your entire argument has revolved around all the reasons that they CAN'T have an eco-friendly tour. I don't give a crap. We both agree: the tour is not eco-friendly. My problem is them making a big show of saying it's eco-friendly. Unless you can give me a shred of evidence that there's anything especially good about this tour, then you've got nothing.

Anonymous said...

Did you read the link i sent? Radiohead is at least trying to be eco-friendly by shipping their equipment instead of air transport, asking fans to car pool, asking (not demanding) venues help, etc...

For those who are won't just fold their arms together and say that radiohead are a bunch of hypocrites because they played the Nissan Pavilion, read their blog on all the ways they're trying to be eco-friendly: http://www.radiohead.com/themostgiganticflyingmouthforsometime/

They're not perfect and they're trying to sort it all out as they go along (especially since they need the help of venues) but at least they're trying to do some good.

Jamie - I'm sure you'll have the last word but you are flat out wrong. It's not as if Radiohead is asking fans to carpool and take public transportation to shows while they each fly to the gigs in individual corporate jets. As Thom Yorke said, "We are doing as much as we possibly can, as I can say with my hand on heart, other than not going out on tour at all."

It's so easy to bitch and complain about things when you don't know the whole story. if it makes you feel better, have at it. I wonder if the THOUSANDS of folks who saw what many said was an epic show in Bristol would rather Radiohead not play there at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way, Camden is really easy to get to via public transport. I was making the point that they chose Camden over similar venues in Philly because, you know, maybe they had to due to circumstances?

Jamie said...

You think they're doing something awesome. I think they're talking a lot more then doing. I did in fact read the link you sent, in which they note that "fan travel and consumption made up 97% of the Amphitheatre tour" - so the fact that they themselves are traveling in a more eco-friendly way is almost completely insignificant compared to venue selection and how the fans have to get to the shows.

Honestly, I do appreciate the fact that they are trying. But in the end, they are not putting their money where their mouth is. Personally, I swore I would never go to Nissan Pavilion again years ago because it's always a logistical disaster. I had a ticket available to the show and I refused it. If Radiohead stood by the policy that they themselves announced for this tour, they would not have been there, either.

I don't care how great the show was. That is not at issue. At issue is their stated position, and what they actually did. They said only shows on municipal transport. Nissan is not. And beyond that, Nissan has a well-known reputation for awful traffic in and out of the show, meaning thousands of cars idling for hours.

If you want to keep this going I'll let you have the last word, because I'm pretty much repeating myself at this point. But we are obviously not going to see eye to eye on this so I suppose there's little point in continuing to beat this wet horse.

Nick Nelson said...

It's a frustrating situation, sure. But your arguments are very misguided. Have you seen the ticket prices for concerts at MCI Center and RFK Stadium? Fuck that shit. I'm not spending $150 to sit in the rafters of a shitty arena with bad sound and tons of view obstruction. Nissan is a bad venue, sure. But there are a lot of more logical choices. VA Beach Amphitheater. Merriweather. Pier 6. Half the draw of pavilion over stadium is that you don't have to fuck your customers on ticket prices.

As for your unnecessary Radiohead slamming, it just sounds like pouty child syndrome. Try fighting Ticketmaster sometime, pal. Do you have money for the multi-million-dollar counter-suit?

Finally, this is all pretty much solved by just leaving way early, which should be the norm for a SOLD OUT SHOW. Think, guys. Come on.

Anonymous said...

This blog post title was mentioned in some online articles, including billboard.com

Jamie said...

Awesome. I've officially been snubbed by Radiohead and Live Nation!


...And from another, "If you gave even one tiny llama turd about environmental impact, you would never have scheduled a show at a venue 40 miles away from downtown D.C., nowhere near public transportation of any kind."

Spokespersons for Nissan Pavilion and Live Nation had no comment.

Other links (the original billboard article, and variations)

Exclaim -- Some Canadian music magazine

Sooooo... why don't y'all just set me up with front row tickets to a show anywhere other than Nissan Pavilion. I'll post a full retraction and we can pretend this whole ugly mess never happened. It'll just be between you and me, I swear...

Shannon said...

See, Jamie, I go away for a day or two and your comment thread blows up. Like a balloon. A balloon stuffed with bile. And that bile is stuffed with pus, and the pus is stuffed full of rotting hamburger meat.

Hey, Random Anonymous, Jamie is entitled to an opinion. We all are, it's a free country. It's possible to disagree without being a dick about it. Fine, Jamie and all the other disgruntled fans are idiots and naive and don't know a thing about the music industry. Maybe you could enlighten us without hurling insults.

Though, I've found, the people who scream the loudest often have the least to say.

Anonymous said...

Farm Fresh meat, if tha t s you're real name, your a asshole. How did you thik peopel would get therer? Fly? But I bet conservatives like you would want that for you're buddys in the oil industry to legislate morality. I bet Radiohed was in on it to. They went to Weslean.

Jamie said...

Yes, Anonymous. Farm Fresh Meat is my real name.

What can we all take away from this, kids? Answer: Drunk blog commenting is a BAD thing.

Jamie said...

Jeezus. I need to listen to my own advice on the blog commenting. I hereby confess to being successfully trolled by one of my own friends.

I blame the Jamison last night (today is my birthday, I don't REALLY drink that vile substance most of the time) for my lack of a sense of humor...

Anonymous said...

well, nevermind nissan, it's all about radiohead! they've got their album up on iTunes now and star 98 in LA has all the info! check it out!