Internet rumors reached fever pitch Friday morning that Radiohead, who performed at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on Wednesday and Thursday nights, will perform Friday afternoon at Occupy Wall Street, the protest that has been slowly gathering steam since its start on Sept. 17. According to a post on occupywallst.org (the site, which was up throughout the morning, is now giving an error code and appears to be crashing), one of the movement's online hubs, the band that prides itself on working outside of the corporate system for its last two releases is supposed to play at 4 p.m.
[Update at 2:22 p.m.: occupywallst.org is now back up with a post that states that Radiohead won't be playing. "This was a hoax. Please accept our apologies."]
Turns out the dream of hearing "Subterranean Homesick Alien" while corraled behind orange police fencing proves to be nothing more than a powerful rumor. According to the band's publicist, there is no statement from the band on the occupation, nor is it playing today or has any plans to play the event in the future.
Several public intellectuals and celebrities have joined Occupy Wall Street or have spoken their support to the media, including Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Russell Simmons and Cornel West, who told Democracy Now! that the occupation has the makings of a U.S. Autumn in response to the Arab Spring.
Regarding criticism that the protest lacks a clear and unified message, the Princeton University professor said, "You’re talking about raising political consciousness so it spills over all parts of the country ... in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution: A transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colors. And that is a step by step process."
The Radiohead rumor brings up an interesting topic: What will be the role of musicians, if any, at this protest? So far, it's been limited. The rapper Immortal Technique performed a concert on Sunday night in Zuccotti Park (the site of the Wall Street protests), and Lupe Fiasco gave an onsite interview to grass-roots organization We Are Change, but so far no act with the visionary cache of Radiohead has shown much support or interest.
But perhaps that is still yet to come. There's no denying that the occupation, now finishing its second week, is gaining more official support every day. According to Crain's, a loose coalition of labor and community groups said Thursday that they would actively join the protest next week. That coalition includes a group of New York City’s biggest labor unions — including the main unions for city teachers and transit workers, as well as two sections of the Service Employees International Union. Is that the kind of momentum that will make Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan show up and serenade the crowd with a little "People Have the Power" or "Masters of War"?
-- Margaret Wappler
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Photo: Thom Yorke playing at the Orpheum Theatre in 2009. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times