The Portland Cello Project (Visual Arts Collective – Garden City) 11/21/19

You had me at OK Computer.


When I first saw that this group of cellists from Portland (hence their name) was coming to my sleepy little Garden City to perform my favorite album of all of the times, there was no doubt I had to check it out.  Boy am I glad that I did, and fortunate that I got a ticket early as there were none available by the night of the show.  There would be no opener on this night, and we didn’t need one.  When the nine musicians stepped onstage to a hearty round of applause I don’t think the crowd knew just how good this was going to be.


In addition to five cellos, a trumpet, and bass, we got some insanely good drum work from Tyrone Hendrix who can pound out some quick as a streak of lightning beats or slow it up for a more improvisational jazz style.  Throughout the night that was dominated by cellos (duh), the backbone he provided carried the proceedings and his several solos drew raucous reactions from the attendees.

Not only did we have fine musicianship but also a treat in the form of vocalist Patti King (known for her work with The Shins).  Her voice suited the tunes perfectly and she sang with an intensity and fire that made crystal clear she is a true Radiohead fan.  She recalled her vivid memory of the day she purchased OK Computer when as a junior high student and playing it on repeat for hours, in awe.  My reception to that album is very similar, and it was really something to be in a room full of people moved by a shared piece of art.


Their opening set started with a few originals from the group as well as one from Patti’s solo work, followed by a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and two Radiohead tunes from Kid A: “The National Anthem” (where the trumpeter got his work in) and an absolutely glorious “How to Disappear Completely”, which has always been a personal favorite.

After a brief intermission, we got what we came for: a track-by-track rendition of OK Computer, including the interlude “Fitter, Happier”, on which Patti played a pre-recorded vocal-distorted track from her phone.  “No Surprises” featured Tyrone on vocals, while “Paranoid Android” and “Electioneering” were given the instrumental treatment.

The crew left to a sincere standing ovation, only to return a few minutes later to lead a crowd sing-along take on the seminal outcast ballad “Creep”.  My Radiohead Nerd itch has been pleasantly and thoroughly scratched, folks.  What a night!