Jesse Jarnow

“creep” – prince

“Creep” – Prince (download)
recorded live at Coachella, 26 April 2008

(file expires June 8th)

And, so an act of civil disobedience against His Purple Dudeness: Prince Rogers Nelson covering Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella. At first, I was bummed to find out that the alleged soundboard circulating was a fairly audiencey audience recording, but — besides Prince’s performance itself, which Clappy so bitchingly deconstructed — what unfolds is that it’s not Prince’s song, it’s not even Radiohead’s. It belongs entirely to the crowd.

A few people seemingly recognize it at first, and there is a smattering of definite cheers. Somebody mentions James Brown. Somebody else repeatedly chants “whoo” or maybe “booooo.” Hard to say. There’s another wave of cheers at 1:10, but the music still sounds like a vaguely generic Prince arpeggio (though it’s also obviously “Creep”) and it doesn’t compare to what happens at 1:45, when Prince actually starts singing.

Then, a wave of noise rolls over the crowd. “Awesome!” somebody says almost immediately. People go, predictably, apeshit, and a dozen conversations spark up in mic range. Presumably, there’s some fierce texting going down, too. After the first big peak, the band passes through the opening changes again. Except now the crowd knows what it is, and begins clapping along — and with extraordinary dullness, as if they bought the hype and are already being ironic about it — which continues through the next verse before fading. The dull clapping continues, a little quieter, as Prince busts out his falsetto. Somebody even laughs.

But then Prince shreds fucking balls again, in an old-fashioned, gas-guzzling wank, and it’s awesome, despite a weird sinking feeling in a crowd that’s not sure if it’s ready to be as wistful as they feel, nostalgic for a time when Radiohead was simply another post-grunge guitar band with a genuine summer hit, but already preparing to yearn for the present moment, surely to immortalized in Flickr sets, text messages, viral videos, and blog postings. If His High Exalted Mothersquonking El Purple Duderino (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) doesn’t have them all purged first.

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