Secret sets. Chaos. The idea that anything could happen at any time. Achy breaky hearts fracturing whenever Oasis turns out to be Everything Everything pumping out the jams—but people still turn up to an unlisted Jamie XX set at the Rabbit Hole at 3 AM. Glastonbury runs on these elusive rituals, inspiring people to behave completely out of character and allowing bands to indulge in the adrenaline rush created by playing to a crowd so hyped up on room temperature beer they who may not initially know or care who the guys holding the guitars are. These are the heady heights of dashing across muddy fields and waiting at West Holts for seven hours in the vague hope Cliff Richard turns up and shows a bit of leg. But how far will people go? Will they literally sacrifice their good time in the vague hope that somebody may turn up? I want to find out. And Glastonbury Festival 2017 has provided me with the perfect target.
Disclaimer: I really like Radiohead. I can't wait to see them when they play the Pyramid stage this year—I haven't seen them in a decade. But dear God are their fans annoying; sat at their abacuses, huffing at any band that doesn't use hieroglyphics to communicate with their audience. So, I thought I'd set myself the small task of fooling that archetype. That beetroot-eating, indie record label and shop tote bag-collecting enigma, the Radiohead fan. And I want to do it by putting on my own fake Radiohead Glastonbury secret set.
As the old saying goes: to fool Radiohead fans, one needs to hand them a Rubix cube. So I have to make one. To do so, I got in touch with my brother John, and asked him to make this.
Right, so you probably don't understand this, humble reader. It may be a little confusing for you. But you're no Poindexter are you? If you were a Radiohead fan, you'd be able to decipher this tech-y masterpiece. You'd be able to read a secret slot, Thursday at 1 PM. At simply one of the most obscure places at Glastonbury, The Dragon. The mirage was made. But now it had to be delivered.
If I've learned anything from hours of watching Frank Underwood stare into the camera, explaining plotlines you've long forgotten, then it's this: if one wants to start a bonfire, they should start many small fires. Ones in obscure places. Streets where hot takes are in such abundance, the streets are on fire. Like, say, Shoreditch.
But let's remember, we're dealing with Radiohead fans. And to fool them, one must go deeper. They must follow the trail of community porn and photos of cats in shoeboxes; the boulevard of broken screens. They must go to Reddit.
With just a few days to go, I've lovingly laid the beautiful trail of metaphorical breadcrumbs on the ground. The hard work has been done! Now it's just a matter of sitting back and playing the waiting game. Letting them tell their friends, and their friends, and so on, and so on.
Smug, satisfied, and awaiting my chariot, I come back to check the link a day later. I see this.
It can't be. I've been so careful; so measured. My forehead sweating, I head over to Twitter. Nothing. All of my huffing and puffing had counted for nothing. Who was I to think that I could take on the Radiohead fans? I've been humiliated by them. I've failed.
I wake up Thursday afternoon, an hour late. My tongue feels like sandpaper. An alarm goes off on my phone: of course, Radiohead. With little over half an hour to go to the 1 PM slot I'd fabricated, I begin stumbling over to the press tent. Is it even worth it? Do I even show for the slot I'd put so much work into? I have to. So I start putting flyers up in the press tent.
I slump into my chair, defeated. Then, however, I hear it.
"What's this?" The press gang flocks around the mysterious image. Within ten minutes, the dregs are flocking to the head desk asking the question: 'Radiohead? Where? When?' I hear the lady working the desk shouting, "These have just gone out and we have absolutely no idea what they're about! As far as we know, somebody is doing a wind-up." Dear God—I've done it. And I have 15 minutes to get there.
Pacing across the cracked soil of the site, I notice grown men holding my flyer. Is this happening?
The moment of truth awaits. I stride up the Park Stage, up to the Dragon. Around three to four people from the press tent are stood in the way of the entrance. This is my time; my moment. You've got this, Oobah.
I dive into the stream, my feet falling one after the other. I'm ready.
"Hello," I breathe. "I am Rodeohead."
A noise vibrates within me. I start singing. "Don't break my heart," I hold onto my belt. "My achy breaky heart." I swing a fake lasso.
The moment I mention the word Rodeohead, all the members of the press who've come along turn away in despair. They thought they'd got the insider's tip, but they'd got Rodeohead. Expectation: Thom Yorke impassionedly wailing from the top of a stone dragon. Reality: A moonfaced cowboy splish-splashing in a stream. For just a second I realise I'm not proud of this, but the show must go on. My soul is turning sour; my voice beginning to crack. Then a man at front, wearing a Stetson hat shouts, "Yeehaw!"
And as the hoedown comes to its end, I realise: I've won. I've provided people with a moment they'll never forget. I provided them with Rodeohead.
Back at the press tent writing, a man runs in sweating, and asks. "Did Radiohead play earlier?" He says, sweating.
"Sure," My eyes shift up from my computer screen. He looks devastated. "Rodeohead."
"Rodeohead?" I nod. His face scrunches, and he twists away slowly. My work here is done.