By Kirsten Becker
I jumped at the opportunity to see Atoms For Peace kicking off the US leg of their tour in support of “Amok” at the Liacouras Center. For those who don’t know, the superband is composed of Thom Yorke of Radiohead, frequent collaborator and producer Nigel Godrich, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco, and Joey Waronker. They entered the stage and kicked things off with the opening track to “Amok” entitled “Before Your Very Eyes…” Yorke then broke between the next song to voice one of the few words he would say that night: “My name is Jay Z,” (gesturing to Flea) “and this Beyonce.” Delving back into the music, Atoms For Peace played both original songs and versions of Thom Yorke’s solo material from his 2006 record “The Eraser.” Yorke flailed around the stage doing his signature moves while his haunting voice danced above Flea’s erratic basslines. Refosco showed off his talent playing various indigenous percussion instruments, some of which I could even recognize. The performance had a high level of energy and emotion, something that couldn’t ever be captured on an album. All of the members were fully invested in each song and every move and note was calculated; even down to the lights which fluttered and pulsed to the music.
After an impressive set, Atoms For Peace walked off the stage to roars from the crowd. When they returned for an encore, Flea had a melodica in hand. They performed an interesting and jarring version of Yorke’s “Skip Divided.” Also in the encore was a cover of UNKLE’s “Rabbit in Your Headlights” and Radiohead rarity “Paperbag Writer.” Five songs later, they left the stage again. It was clear they weren’t over just yet, roadies tuned and adjusted guitars in the dimmed lights. Finally, the collective returned; this time Flea making a costume change into a Temple basketball jersey. The final two songs were again Thom Yorke originals, “Atoms For Peace” and “Black Swan.”
The musical genius of this band is remarkable and seeing them live is an experience in itself. “Amok” is available now, for more information on the band and future tour dates, visit http://atomsforpeace.info/