The Universal Sigh Hits Seattle

photos by Nick Heinlein

Today, at around quarter to 1, a small line formed on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Stretching from ice creamery Molly Moon’s around the corner to Everyday Music, a quiet assemblage of people from all walks of life gathered in anticipation. Confused passers-by gave the crowd second and third glances, debating whether to stop and ask their purpose.

Said aloud, “Radiohead is passing out a free newspaper,” it sounds sort of silly. Maybe it is: The Universal Sigh is an enigmatic 12-page collection of stories, thoughts, art, and ramblings put together and handed out globally. It’s a stunt, but whether for expression or just for publicity is unclear. If it’s the latter, it’s certainly not as controversial or buzzworthy as the In Rainbows-era pay-as-you-like experiment. It’s far more subtle, like the album it promotes. The King of Limbs received a lukewarm critical reception, and a number of Radiohead diehards were put off. Those who stuck around discovered an album heavily influenced by house and dub, lacking in the sweeping, massive scale most expect from the band.

Maybe that’s why there was so little fuss about The Universal Sigh. Those who did arrive early dispersed fairly quickly, the novelty wearing off in a matter of minutes. A halfhearted reception for what, to many, may have felt like a halfhearted album. Or maybe it’s because the spirit was hardly there; in the U.K., people dressed as paperboys reportedly yell and catcall. Seattle had no such luck, and the performance was limited to a few overly ecstatic fans posing in funny ways for the camera. Check out more photos below:

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4 Comments

  1. spiro
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Ballard was even more lackluster. There was absolutely no line.

  2. Brian
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Funny, there was no line at all in Ballard.

  3. crash
    Posted March 30, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It seems Radiohead continues it’s mass brain-washing campaign of convicing music lovers that they are an innovative band. Maybe it’s just me, but the new album sounds just like most all of their other boring albums.

  4. Anna
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    my experience in nyc was fun - best part was the look on peoples’ faces when they asked what we were doing on the line - i think the point of it was the communal nature of the event and...since Thom showed up in London to help hand them out, there was always the chance he might pop in ;) nice excuse to take a break from work!

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