Monday, March 19, 2012

Heartland, Heartland, Heartland / Radiohead Concert Review

Road Trip to Mizzou and Arkansas

The quickest way to drive to Columbia, MO from Big D is to head straight up I35 and hang a right in Wichita, KS. In between, there is not much to see. A vast, flat plain, treeless and windswept. It takes little more than an hour to reach the Red River and immediately the casinos appear, we are in Indian territory. Further north is Ardmore, Oklahoma, where in 2003 about 50 Democrats from the Texas House of Representatives hid out to avoid a contentious vote. Talk radio in Austin had a blast with that.

Just south of Oklahoma City is Norman, home of OU. Impressive football stadium but there was zero interest in the campus from my co-pilot. A few miles north is Moore, whose claim to fame is that it is the home of Toby Keith. Much debate ensued: was he born there? Does he live there? Was this the best they could come up with for their water tower?

Cruising through Oklahoma City, I told the story of Timothy McVeigh, who in 1995 became a home-grown Bin Laden. Ironically, the evil bastard was executed June 11, 2001, exactly 90 days before 9/11. We did not see the memorial but did see several buildings that resembled the Murrah Federal Building, where 168 perished including nineteen children.

In Kansas, we argued whether we should have planned a side trip to Holcomb, the setting for Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" (there is a lot of anger out here on the prairie...). Fiona read the book for her English class and declared it to be a worthy read, pushed it on me and I have to concur with her assessment. Turns out Holcomb is way west, almost in Colorado, and we were rapidly approaching Kansas City and night was drawing in.

Determined to procure some famed KC BBQ, we threaded our way downtown, eventually ending up in the Light & Power District, which was hopping with throngs of youngsters, hipsters and those out for dinner and a cocktail. We parked the car and found ourselves outside the Sprint Center arena which was buzzing. A scalper tried to sell us tickets for an unknown event - I assumed the Big 12 College Basketball tourney. Turns out it was Radiohead. He was asking $150 for floor seats - we politely declined and went and had a leisurely dinner (not BBQ!). About an hour and a half later, we went by the arena again. This time Mr Scalper had two for $150 and after some shrewd negotiating ("free string"), Fiona and I got in the tickets for just about face value.

We tumbled into the Sprint Center in time to see the very end of the opening act - who was it again? She was delighted, having missed Radiohead when they came to Dallas just a few days previously. The show was excellent. They played for two hours, first half mostly King of Limbs, second half older stuff, closing the show with Paranoid Android. The sound was very very good. The light show terrific. One of the top five shows I have been to. So our day on the plains was not all bad and when we crawled into our hotel in Columbia at 1am, we did so with the falsetto of Thom Yorke resonating in our heads.

I was banned from taking pics at Mizzou or U of A. Both are good schools, the former strong in journalism and broadcasting, the latter in business (thanks Sam Walton!). The Mizzou campus is almost a slice of Americana; Fayetteville, AK is the prototypical college town. Time will tell if we get to drop off a Fish at either.

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