That time I went to Brisbane to see Radiohead

The day Radiohead tickets went on sale, hipsters Australia wide panicked. Ticketek crushed the dreams of many as it kept cancelling people’s orders and wouldn’t let them enter their credit card details, and generally wreaked chaos in the lives of chequered shirt-wearing, lens-less glasses bearing humans. This is the story of how I ended up with two hipster tickets to see Radiohead in Brisbane, and not in Sydney where I live.

Radiohead haven’t played in Australia for eight years, and it’s been even longer for Brisbanites. I found this out by reading the Wikipedia page of Radiohead in my hotel room three hours before the concert took place on Friday, 9 November 2012. Obviously I’m not a Radiohead fan worthy of mention.

I caught the plane up with a real Radiohead fan as my companion to Brisbane early on Friday morning, and by early I mean 11:00am. I really like Brisbane. I’ve been a few times now to visit friends and I’ve always really enjoyed my time there. You can drive anywhere – even into the city and find a park – which is crazy talk to this Sydney girl. I also like the fact Brisbane has a suburb called The Valley because it makes me sound like I’m in California when I say I'm there. Downside of Brisbane: this Sydney girl can’t take humid temperatures of 27°C.

When we get out at Roma Street train station in the city, I am melting. Then my trusty Radiohead companion leads us in the wrong direction to our motel. Slowly waning. When we finally climb up the hill to Wickham Terrace (where I was thrilled to learn we were staying because of a flashback to my days of buying a property on Wickham Terrace in the Australian version of Monopoly), I spotted our headache-inducing accommodation, which was heightened by the fact I already had a headache from the heat. Great, we were staying in Dodgy Villas.

Dodgy Villas wasn’t actually that bad once you got inside your room, although touches of Dodgy were evident in the un-opening windows and deafening aircon. If only Dodgy Villas had extended to the television not working so I didn’t have to watch test cricket with my Radiohead companion...

Once I pried him away from what is surely the most boring game on earth, we walked down to Southbank, once devastated by the 2011 floods, but now a flourishing place with a cool man-made beach and lots of places to eat. We went to Beastie Burgers and ate too many lentil burgers, but it was a nice place to visit in the humid weather.

I suppose you’ve read this far in the article and are waiting for the stuff on Radiohead, so I’ll skip the bit where I had a really average ice cream and ran out of money, and the bit where it started raining for the first time in three months in Brisbane, and the bit where I had a really nice dinner and paid $6.40 to get to Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre in the middle of nowhere.

Boondall – the location which is done no favours by its name – is where you will find Brisbane’s Entertainment Centre (a.k.a. Where Are We?), a mere 24 kilometres from the city centre. We enjoyed getting aboard the train to Hipster Central, where we listened to conversations such as, “I’m a really harsh critic, but seriously, like, Muse’s last album was tops of two and half stars. All my friends were like, are you cray?” and everyone was taking selfies. We were glad to get off in the rain.

As you enter the Entertainment Centre, volunteers are asking concertgoers to donate to the ‘Free Tibet’ campaign which, also according to the informative Wikipedia page on Radiohead, is a standard feature of their concerts. We had seated tickets, which helps because I’m the kind of person they don’t let on rollercoasters I’m so short. We’d missed the support act, Connan Mockasin (who I keep calling Gotta Moleskin), and were glad to have a short wait until RADIOHEAD.

By this stage, I was so excited I couldn't even play 'Find the Worst Hipster Moustache in the Crowd' with my Radiohead companion. When the lights finally dimmed and they opened with ‘Lotus Flower’, they could have just finished after that song and I would have been happy. The best part was that Thom Yorke actually did what Bernard Zuel in the SMH described as the “all limbs no bones dance” like in the film clip for 'Lotus Flower' here.

For those who are real Radiohead fans and not the fake Wikipedia-reading fans like me, here was the set list:
1. Lotus Flower
2. Bloom
3. Airbag
4. The Daily Mail
5. Myxomatosis
6. The Gloaming
7. Separator
8. Reckoner (this was a standout)
9. You and Whose Army? (perfect follow up to Reckoner)
10. Climbing Up the Walls
11. Nude (so good)
12. Staircase (new stuff I hadn’t heard that was really interesting)
13. There There
14. The National Anthem
15. Feral
16. Bodysnatchers (here they went off stage and I thought they’d come on for one encore and that would be it…I was fleetingly disappointed until I realised there were three encores)

17. Give Up the Ghost
18. Pyramid Song
19. Morning Mr Magpie
20. Paranoid Android (wow, this was worth waiting for)
21. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Encore 2
22. 15 Step (this one went off)
23. Everything In Its Right Place (they did the first half of this song, then went off stage, then came back and finished it, merging it with Idioteque)

Encore 3
24. Idioteque

After three encores, watching Jonny Greenwood keep changing between guitar, drums and keyboard, and them exhausting every Radiohead song I know (I literally know about four), as well have some weirdo behind us yell out “Nickelback!” to Thom Yorke, I left speechless and didn’t care that I had to wait an hour in the rain with no umbrella for a taxi. My companion who is the real Radiohead fan couldn’t talk to me for nearly all that time he was so speechless, so I guess it was a good concert for the real fans too.

On a completely different note unrelated to Radiohead, here’s a list of cool places I ended up eating at over the weekend, which you might like to check out too next time you find yourself in Brisbane stuck between Boondall and The Valley.

Cool places I liked eating at

Brew: good coffee, interesting breakfasts, and looks like it turns into cool pub at night.
Lower Burnett Lane, Brisbane City, 4000

Survey Co.: drinks, nibbles and really fresh produce dinner for a good price.
32 Burnett Lane, Brisbane City, 4000

Happy Little Dumplings: if dumpling are your thang and you’re in The Valley, word on the street is to avoid the overly cute looking Harajuku Dumplings, and hit up this much smaller venue for quick and happy service.
Shop 10, 65 James St, Fortitude Valley, 4006

Alfred & Constance: A new bar for all you over 18s. They’ve bought an old Queenslander home and put a different bar in each room. It's a cool idea that makes it feel like one big chilled house party.
132 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley, 4006

Gyoza Bar Ann: If you’re really liking the dumpling thing and want to have them twice in one day, then this should be your evening location. Gyoza Bar serves more than just dumplings and they come out really fresh and really hot. This place is located in the Emporium, which means there’ll be lots of other venues to eat if you’ve exhausted your dumpling muscle.
Shop 26, 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, 4006

Spring Hill Deli: a new venue for a really good breakfast and specialty deli goods. Well worth your Sunday morning.
2/537 Boundary Street, Brisbane 4000