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Radiohead, Sigur Ros Dance Party

Bands jam with modern-dance legend Merce Cunningham

Thom Yorke of Radiohead during Field Day Music Festival on June 7th, 2003 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Theo Wargo/WireImage
November 13, 2003

Radiohead were the opening act. The Icelandic band Sigur Rós played a xylophone made of ballet shoes. And both bands performed below the stage, in the orchestra pit. The occasion was the October 14th world premiere, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, of Split Sides, by the legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham. But the rock & roll highlight of the night was the score composed and played live by the two art-rock combos. "My kids think he's the coolest guy around," said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, introducing Cunningham at the start of the program. "He even got Radiohead here."

Cunningham used ceremonial throws of dice before the dance to determine the order of music, lights and costumes in the two-part piece. Radiohead lost their roll, so they accompanied the dancers in the first half with a rich son-of-Kid A blend of electronica, radio broadcasts and wordless vocals by Thom Yorke. Sigur Rós used wind-up music boxes and guitar feedback to create an arctic storm of melody and noise that included spoken-word samples of the eighty-four-year-old Cunningham.

This story is from the November 13th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

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Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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