The List: Brahms v. Radiohead, a tale of the tape

Andy Downing
Thom Yorke performs with Radiohead in July 2018 at Value City Arena.

This weekend, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra presents Brahms v. Radiohead, a musical mash-up that marries all four movements of Brahms' First Symphony with eight tracks from the 1997 Radiohead album OK Computer. In advance of the concert, which takes place at the Ohio Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 9, we thought we'd see how the two musical titans might fare against one another in a variety of competitions. To the scoreboard!

In a battle of the bands 

Brahms is regarded as an all-time great composer for a reason, but absent an orchestra he's just a guy with some sheet music, a single instrument and a complex melody bouncing around inside of his dome. Radiohead, on the other hand, arrives fully equipped to deliver a full-band performance, which gives it a distinct advantage (as long as the musicians avoid any material off of King of Limbs).

Advantage: Radiohead

In a fist fight

While not a tall man (friend Gustov Ophuls estimated his height at around 5 feet 7 inches), Brahms was described by singer George Henschel as “rather stout … with long hair and a full beard.” That could make him a more intimidating presence — a fact that bears out in photographs. With an average height of around 5 feet 8 inches, Radiohead has a slight edge in length, largely due to the presence of guitarist Ed O'Brien, who would tower over his opponent at 6 feet 5 inches tall. Aside from O'Brien, though, whose standing reach would also give Brahms fits, the members of Radiohead are relatively slight, particularly wispy frontman Thom Yorke. Brahms' bulldog build should give him the edge against the remaining members.

Edge: Brahms

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In a game of 21

Historically, Germany has a richer basketball lineage than England (see: Dirk Nowitski), but Brahms isn't exactly built for the court, where both his height and slow feet could prove his downfall, particularly while trying to lock down O'Brien in the post. Plus, Radiohead bass player Colin Greenwood looks like he'd have sneaky good game, akin to one of those old white men at the YMCA who never misses a bank shot because he's been practicing the fundamentals of the game since the days George Gervin ruled the courts.

Edge: Radiohead

In competitive gaming

On record, Radiohead has long espoused a deep mistrust of technology, which makes me think the band wouldn't be entirely comfortable within the e-sports world. At the same time, Brahms died in 1897, 84 years before the personal computer was invented.

Edge: Radiohead

In a chugging contest

This one is incredibly tough to call, as Brahms looks like he could throw beers back with ease, while the members of Radiohead are British, which means, at least at one point in their lives, each almost certainly could. Still, Brahms' stout figure, brewer's beard and German lineage make me think he could, in time, put most of the band under the table, much like Larry Bird did the night he went out drinking with Sir Charles Barkley.

Edge: Brahms

In a dance-off

I defy you to choose anyone else after watching Yorke in the “Lotus Flower” video.

Edge: Radiohead

In a game of Tic-Tac-Toe

Does anyone ever really win in this game?

Edge: Draw

Ohio Theatre

8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9

39 E. State St., Downtown

Brahms v. Radiohead