The experimental hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces, avant garde electronic musician Holly Herndon and the jazz deconstructionists Dawn of Midi will open for the band on various legs of their tour. While these artists are highly respected among music critics, they’re not nearly as well-known as Radiohead and their sound is wildly different from the iconic UK art rockers. For fans who scored tickets to Radiohead’s upcoming tour (or those curious to discover some challenging but highly rewarding music) here’s a look at Radiohead's hand-selected openers.
It’s hard to believe that Ishmael Butler, a member of the ultra-smooth and jazzy ‘90s hip-hop group Digable Planets, is also responsible for the art-rap group Shabazz Palaces. Following the dissolution of his old group (who will be reuniting for a brief tour later this summer), Butler moved to Seattle, where he linked up with Tendai 'Baba' Maraire to form Shabazz Palaces. The group specializes in the type of dense and abstract hip-hop that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has long championed, and while their music is often difficult to parse, it’s always engaging and completely unlike anything else in the rap landscape. Shabazz Palaces will be opening for Radiohead on their Los Angeles dates at The Shrine.
The music of Holly Herndon draws from the more experimental electronic end of Radiohead’s catalog. Using computers to create a carefully cultivated sonic environment, Herndon's voice is deployed atmospherically, as she chops it into digital bits that fit around her highly unorthodox compositions. But while some might dismiss her music as abstract noise, Herndon is extremely deliberate both conceptually and compositionally, as her music is a thoughtful exploration of the increasingly sticky relationship between humans and technology. Herndon will perform with Radiohead on their dates in Amsterdam, Paris, London and Lyon.
Dawn of Midi
The New York trio Dawn of Midi -- who will open for Radiohead at their Madison Square Garden shows -- has the same piano/ upright bass/ drums makeup of countless jazz trios but as Pitchfork said in their review of the band’s 2013 album Dysnomia, the band’s focus is on “dismantling jazz with the same tools that built it.” This means a basic, repetitive structure (not unlike the Radiohead favorite “Idioteque”) that gains momentum and power through slight changes and subtle shifts.
All of these groups are extremely heady, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with them before you head out to the venue. For more on Radiohead’s big return, keep it here on AXS.com.