Radiohead Tribute - Meeting in the Aisle
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Radiohead Tribute - Meeting in the Aisle

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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"Claymont club to host Radiohead tribute band"

By Jesse Chadderdon
Staff Reporter

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If you’re at Mojo 13 Saturday night, be sure to just close your eyes and listen – just listen.

You’d have to admit the music coming from the Claymont club’s stage sounds a lot like Radiohead. Only a pat of your wallet – still home to the $50 you didn’t spend on a ticket to see the real thing – is a clue that maybe your ears have been deceived.

Once you open your eyes, you’ll see that your intuitions were correct: The note-for-note re-creations of Radiohead staples like “My Iron Lung,” “Paranoid Android” or “Pyramid Song” are the product of a Philadelphia quintet that’s been playing together for less than a year, not the Oxford, UK band that has released seven acclaimed albums in its storied 17-year history.

After connecting through a series of ads posted on the online classified site Craigslist seeking musicians who were self-described Radiohead die-hards, the tribute band Meeting in the Aisle was born. The band’s name is taken from the title of a rare song that appears on the “How’s My Driving?” EP that supplements the Radiohead’s most commercially-viable release “OK Computer.”

After building up a loyal following of Radiohead fans in Philadelphia, Meeting in the Aisle is bringing their show to Delaware for the first time Saturday. Drummer Michael Litt admitted that early audiences seemed skeptical.

“I think a lot of people showed up just to hear us butcher the songs,” he said. “I think a lot of people were pleasantly surprised about just how true we stayed to the music.”

Guitarist Anthony Pryor said that once the cynics were appeased, crowds began to grow quickly. Recently, the band has played to crowds of a couple hundred at popular Philadelphia clubs like the Grape Street Pub and the Underground.

“We’ve got an advantage in the fact that we’ve got a built in fan base,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there that are as fanatical about Radiohead as we are.”

To date, the band has mastered about half of the Radiohead songbook, including four songs from the “In Rainbows” album the band released digitally late last year. Ultimately, they hope to be able to play the band’s entire catalogue and they generally focus on learning one or two new songs each week at their rehearsals in Upper Darby, where they rent a tiny practice space alongside a number of other bands.

Singer and guitarist Karl Danner, with his diminutive stature and disheveled haircut, is a Thom Yorke look-alike. But Danner insists the resemblance to the Radiohead front man is accidental. And besides, it’s his haunting, brooding vocals that invoke Yorke the most.

“Our goal is to play the music accurately, not to look the part,” Danner said, virtually shouting over the Judas Priest tribute band singing “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” in the room across the hall.

Lead guitarist Michael McCarthy admitted that many of the songs were tricky to learn. He said even the guitar music released officially by the band has some mistakes.

“We started playing from the published music and we’d be like ‘wait a minute, that’s not what they’re playing on the record,’” he said. “We learned a lot from just watching performance of the band on YouTube.”

Bassist Rob Whalen said he’s amazed at the ease in which the band’s been able to learn some of Radiohead’s more intricate songs.

“I always think of myself as the biggest Radiohead fan in the world and even I’m impressed with what we’re able to pull off sometimes,” he said.

Litt put it this way: “You’re not going to find more critical Radiohead fans out there than us,” he said. “If it passes our test, you can be confident it’s damn good.” - http://communitypub.com/stories/02-11-2008/011_MeetingInTheAisle.html


"A Radiohead Tribute Band?"

"A tribute band?"

"A fucking tribute band?"

C'mon now. That's no way to act. In fact, screw you, music elitist. Let me ask you something—have you heard the myriad god-awful original bands out there in the bottomless music void, droning on and on about being in a cage of rage and their pain in Spain driving them insane? Doesn't seem so eye-rolling now, does it Chet. Sit down.

Many moons have come and gone, many record grooves worn out, eight tracks eaten and cassettes warped for me to have adequately honed myself into a bit of a music snob. That is to say that when I should've been trying to get laid in high school I was tracing the production style and guitar shreddery of Siamese Dream to the studio exploits of Queen and the technique of Eddie Van Halen. Seemed a reasonable distraction at the time.

Anywho, these "tribute" acts are often scoffed at by my kind, and if my tastes weren't so broad, my Brawny brain so all all-absorbing, I may have not experienced my first tribute band: Sabbra Cadabra, "The World's Greatest Black Sabbath Tribute Band." And oh yes, they fucking are. So much so that I have barely missed a Philly appearance since my first show over 3 years ago. And knowing my "snob" status, people will often say, "I can't believe you go to see a tribute band." And then I punch them in the head. And then I think, "Why do I go to see a tribute band?"



This question was drinking right beside me at the Underground on Friday night, where I journeyed to see the official maiden voyage of Meeting in the Aisle, "A Tribute to the Music of Radiohead." And it was nudging me annoyingly, going "Huh? Huh?" But as I heard sleigh bells coax the opening guitar riff of "Airbag" to rise out of the depths of the Underground, the answer became clear. And then I punched the question in the head.

First off, the "tribute" in question has to be a band you love. This may seem obvious on the surface, until you realize that huge fans of the honored band will undoubtedly be the most anal pricks about the sound of any imitation. Which brings us to the second criterion: sonic authenticity. Of course, if you're going to dedicate your time and effort to being a tribute act, you're going to be just as much of an anal prick about the sound as those in attendance, which helps. If you're a good musician. Luckily, Meeting in the Aisle delivered in spades.



As faux-Thom-Yorke Karl Danner snarled vocals and twitched his best Yorke twitch in his best Yorke haircut, you could dart your view around the packed club and see Radiohead loyalists with eyes intently forward and ears alert for the slightest abnormality. But it was quickly apparent that these guys were sticklers for detail. Every note, every beat, and every succulent, floating Radiohead bleep and whistle seemed accounted for.

The height of this realization smacked me in the face midway through the first set as the band's sound engineer, nestled behind a curtain in a wonderful Oz-like chamber behind the band, worked out the last few kinks and conquered the size and layout of the crowded Underground just as the sarcastic opening bass line of "National Anthem" rolled forward. Fucking dead on. See my smile from ear to ear.



And once the über-fans are satisfied with the sonic aspect, they can relax, begin to drink, and settle in for the joy of the third criterion: live pseudo-nostalgia. Because if it sounds so damned authentic, and if the band in question is still touring, why not just listen to the real thing?



There is the obvious reason of not wanting to pay upwards of $50 for a ticket and $7 per beer to view an ant-band from what can seem like light-years away. But even stronger is the idea of seeing a major act like Radiohead or Black Sabbath in a little club, emulating the pub gigs at which they first began honing their acts. And again, if the facsimile thereof is reasonable (or hopefully a lot more than reasonable), you can let the atmosphere and perhaps the drug of your choice suspend your disbelief enough to imagine yourself right there at the inception.



This pseudo-nostalgia hit especially hard in the Underground with MitA's raw, rock-centric Radiohead covers like "The Bends," "You," and the explosive climaxes of "2+2=5" and "My Iron Lung." It immediately brought to mind a set of YouTube videos I had recently watched of the Police performing in a little dive before they were known the world over. I remembered how much I wanted to be there as I gazed in awe and listened to the rawness of it. That's the feeling that MitA draped over their audience like a warm, friendly blanket.



All in all, I'd say all the necessary criteria were met. Meeting in the Aisle's maiden voyage was a complete success. The sound and stage presence were there, all the Radiohead albums were visited (as well as rarity "Killer Cars" for the real hardcore fans), the wall-to-wall attendance proved that there is an audience for what they're laying down, and knowing how superfan-musicians are, their set list will most probably expand, their sound will become increasingly fine-tuned and before you know it their lead singer will take a MitA hiatus to hit the road with Eraser, "A Tribute to the Music of Thom Yorke."

You see? Tribute bands can be a good experience. And if you're still not convinced, just think that there are probably Creed tribute bands by now. So give these guys a break. And if you have a sweet tooth for Radiohead, come out to their next gig and hear for yourself. You won't be disappointed. And I promise not to punch you in the head. Much.





Andy McGowan - The Independent


Discography

Demo - 5 Songs:
1. The National Anthem (live @ The Note)
2. Karma Police
3. Dollars and Cents
4. Go to Sleep
5. Exit Music

Photos

Bio

Meeting in the Aisle stands as a passionate musical collective whose sole purpose is to present the music and showmanship of Radiohead with as much accuracy and energy as possible.

Each member shares an intense love of Radiohead's entire catalog and has perfected songs from every Radiohead studio album, including their newest album, In Rainbows, as well as b-sides and rarities.

This Radiohead tribute is comprised of trained musicians who not only play in various original and cover bands in the Philadelphia area, but most of which also hold positions as studio engineers, live soundmen and DJs. Meeting in the Aisle members include Karl Danner on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Anthony Pryor on rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards and vocals; Mike McCarthy on lead guitar, effects, keyboards and vocals; Rob Whalen on bass; and Michael Litt on drums and percussion.

Meeting in the Aisle have recently caught on by word of mouth after a string of successful private parties and are now taking their tribute into the clubs, headlining well known local venues such as Grape Street Philadelphia, The Northstar Bar, The Khyber, Puck and Silk City to name a few as well as playing various venues in New York, Maryland, New Jersey and other areas within Pennsylvania. Their goal is to continue putting on raw, in-your-face, aurally luminous shows while maintaining musical integrity and a meticulous ear for detail. After all, isn't that what a Radiohead show is all about?