Detroit Questioning Radiohead's Ten-Year Snub

Detroit Questioning Radiohead's Ten-Year Snub
Why does Radiohead hate Detroit? That's what Motowners are wondering as the band announce their North American tour dates. For the last ten years Radiohead have avoided playing the Motor City, leaving fans disappointed and perplexed as to why the Oxford band constantly skip their city.

The Daily Swarm noticed an article published by the Detroit Free Press titled "Radiohead in the D? No signs yet", which questioned why the band choose to allude the city, considering the strong support for their music (the city's 16,000 in sales for 2003's Hail to the Chief, the paper writes, was far ahead of tour stops Indianapolis and Cleveland). A snippet reads:

More than a decade has passed since the celebrated English band played a stage in the Motor City, a place that has been regarded as one of the country's premier concert markets.

During that time, the group has booked three full tours of the United States, and has had other scattered dates. But not in Detroit. Not since a 1997 visit that spawned all manner of rumors about the group's ongoing absence from the Motor City.


What the Free Press failed to uncover before publishing the article, however, is that there is an answer. According to the Swarm, the reason for Radiohead's snubbing is that the band just can't find a venue that suits them. The Swarm writes:

From that 2001 tour onward, Radiohead has sought a particular sort of concert setting: outdoors, out-of-the-way, pastoral. Browse the band’s itineraries and you’ll find a host of venues fitting that bill—places such as the rustic Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state and the riverside Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal.

But DTE Energy Music Theatre, this market’s top outdoor venue and the one that would best fit the band’s criteria, is a no-go for a very specific reason: It has too many corporate-sponsor signs for Radiohead’s taste.

"That is absolutely, 100%” the reason Radiohead did not include Detroit on this year’s U.S. outing, says a source who has been involved in tour negotiations, but asked not to be identified. Instead, the band opted for less-branded amphitheaters in Cleveland and Indianapolis—facilities that also have capacities significantly higher than DTE‘s 15,000 seats.

The source is backed up by others familiar with the situation. In standard music-biz fashion, they declined to speak for attribution because of ongoing business relationships.

Label chief Costello is not versed on the DTE specifics. But he says Radiohead’s anti-sponsor position is a core philosophy for band members, especially vocalist Thom Yorke.

"Thom is a real stickler about that,” says Costello. "Two albums ago, he read a book or an article about corporate sponsorship, and it just sent him crawling up the wall. He decided there would be no more of the bullshit on the side” of the stage. "They’ve really drilled in to see who’s doing what” in terms of sponsor presence at venues.


And there you have it Detroit. Once Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick consults with the 'Head to build a venue that suits their needs, the band will jump for the opportunity to perform.