Radiohead draws sea of fans at Bonnaroo

Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke performs with the band on the What Stage during the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Friday, June 8, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012 // Buy this photo

Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke performs with the band on the What Stage during the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Friday, June 8, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

If anyone could pacify a restless crowd of 80,000, it's Radiohead.

Or so I hoped.

I was a little slow on the draw to start heading for the What Stage where the Bonnaroo headliners played Friday night.

Before I knew it, I was swept away in the currents of the massive, incoming crowd with no say in where I was headed. "Oh well, at least you get to see Radiohead," I thought. Just go with it.

I wondered how early the die-hard fans on the front row must have shown up, somewhere down there, beyond sight.

I thought about our photographer, Adam Brimer, who made the list of shooters allowed into the photo pit to snap the band during their first three songs. I hoped the barricades held, for his sake, as I shuffled along nose to back - with the masses, but no direction.

The show started promptly at 10 p.m. with “Bloom,” the first track off their latest album, “The King of Limbs.”

As the British gods among musicians (I'm little partial to Radiohead) began their second song of the night, “15 Steps,” the seas calmed and spit me out somewhere near a falafel cart.

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performs with the band on the What Stage during the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Friday, June 8, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performs with the band on the What Stage during the 11th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., Friday, June 8, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

If you were there, you might of seen me – I was standing right in front of that guy smoking the joint.

The band, who previously played Bonnaroo in 2006, went through some two-dozen songs over the next two-plus hours. Familiar favorites, like “Kid A,” and “Karma Police” were rewarded with huge applause that seemed to erupt at the stage and roll back in waves to the outer reaches of the crowd.

The stage show's enormous digital projection screens flashed and flickered in harmony with each song and, like a lot of Radiohead's work, looked genius even if it all didn't exactly make sense.

“Supercollider” was introduced by frontman Thom Yorke as a thank you to transplanted Nashvillian and the man of many great bands since the White Stripes, Jack White.

“And we're not gonna tell you why,” Yorke teased.

Maybe White offered to let them sleep on the couch at his place later so they wouldn't have to camp at Bonnaroo.

They kept at it past midnight and said goodbye with two of my favorites, “Reckoner” and “Paranoid Android.”

Yeah, it was kind of amazing.

Tonight, it's the Red Hot Chili Peppers' turn.

Look for me near the falafel cart.

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