Under-promise, over-deliver. That seemed to be the guiding principle for Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich of Atoms for Peace on Thursday night (or, more specifically, very early Friday morning) during their performance at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC. The audience had been promised a DJ set, and they got one—but not until Yorke had sung a live set lasting nearly two hours, drawing on material from both Amok and The Eraser. LPR is a very small venue for Yorke and company (who can easily pack arenas) and there was a pervasive sense in the audience that this show was something special.
The performance featured strikingly intricate visuals projected onto three large screens behind Nigel and Thom. The images were largely geometric, and were expertly choreographed to fit the evening’s set list. The set opened with “Ingenue,” with its squealing synth line and Yorke’s cooed falsetto, from Amok. Yorke’s dancing was considerably more subdued than in the music video for the song, but his vocals were absolutely chilling. The show continued with crowd favorite “Black Swan” from The Eraser, which took on an anthemic quality when much of the audience started to sing along. But Yorke seemed to really buckle down during the third song of the night, “Stuck Together Pieces,” when he finally pulled his hair back into a ponytail.
The set’s tone was generally pretty dark: Yorke and Godrich, also of Radiohead, have a long track record of penning music that expresses malaise regarding some aspect of modern life. Music by Atoms for Peace is no exception. Amok’s tracks are pervasively jittery and restless, and this certainly came through in a live setting. Other evening highlights included Amok opener “Before Your Very Eyes,” to which Thom contributed guitar, as well as “The Eraser,” and “Harrowdown Hill” from Thom’s solo album. The set closed with a shuddering, hallucinatory rendition of “Default.”
Having finished the unbelievably impressive live portion of the evening, Thom sauntered back onstage and asked audience members if they were ready to go home yet. His inquiry was, of course, met with a resounding “NO.” Thus began the evening’s promised DJ set which, by that point in the night, just felt like a bonus.
Holly Herndon and Arca opened.