Author Topic: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?  (Read 7518 times)

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Offline mofospacejunk

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #75 on: March 09, 2017, 08:12:13 PM »
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Easy ... I wish they quit after the Popmart tour. Gone out on a high.

Personally, every single song they've written and recorded ever since would not have been missed if it wasn't.

For that to work, Bono need to have kept the f^&k out of politics too; thus making this site a lot easier for m2 to manage.
Now that's a laugh, considering U2 have ALWAYS had a political side to them and only now are people getting all bent out of shape over it 😂

Yes they have.

But go show me some photos of Bono getting all cuddly with Bush.

But you show me pre Popmart where Bono would basically become a Hawker between songs, whilst his band was doing everything they could to ensure they kept money in their coffers.

Offline Ultrafly

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #76 on: March 10, 2017, 06:04:44 AM »
I don't see a three year workrate as difficult.

Year #1 : Write, record, (12 months)
Year #2 : promo and work up tour (6 months) + 6 months of shows (3 months US + 1 month off + 2 months Euro)
Year #3 : Tour then holiday (1 month Euro + 1 month off + 2 months US + 1 month Aus/South Africa. 7 months to sit on your yacht, count money, and write songs.

Offline PopMart_1997

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #77 on: March 10, 2017, 02:43:21 PM »
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I don't see a three year workrate as difficult.

Year #1 : Write, record, (12 months)
Year #2 : promo and work up tour (6 months) + 6 months of shows (3 months US + 1 month off + 2 months Euro)
Year #3 : Tour then holiday (1 month Euro + 1 month off + 2 months US + 1 month Aus/South Africa. 7 months to sit on your yacht, count money, and write songs.
Thats something U2 or lots of other artists would do in their first decade. U2 have had families and other interests that deserve attention as well. The members do have a life outside the band.

Offline TheDude1999

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #78 on: March 10, 2018, 05:16:02 AM »
Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).



Otherwise if you wanted a dramtically different “timeline”, you would have to change a lot about U2’s mindset. They seem to gravitate towards extremes (because some people made fun of them for Rattle and Hum they went full on ironic in the 1990s and then went full on pop in the 2000s when people made fun of them for being ironic).

If they picked more commercial singles and didn’t go overboard with their image sometimes, they would be even more popular and might be more “experimental” as they don’t have to prove themselves as much.

But yeah, U2 can be quite quirky and that’s why we get such unique albums from them.


Offline McSwilly

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #79 on: March 10, 2018, 11:15:03 AM »
They should have stopped making albums after Pop. And really Achtung was the last really good one. However, I would want them to keep touring as much as possible.

Offline wons

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #80 on: March 10, 2018, 12:40:23 PM »
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login, where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Offline TheDude1999

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #81 on: March 11, 2018, 07:57:52 AM »
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login, where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Offline dirtdrybonesandstone

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #82 on: March 11, 2018, 05:15:59 PM »
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).



Otherwise if you wanted a dramtically different “timeline”, you would have to change a lot about U2’s mindset. They seem to gravitate towards extremes (because some people made fun of them for Rattle and Hum they went full on ironic in the 1990s and then went full on pop in the 2000s when people made fun of them for being ironic).

If they picked more commercial singles and didn’t go overboard with their image sometimes, they would be even more popular and might be more “experimental” as they don’t have to prove themselves as much.

But yeah, U2 can be quite quirky and that’s why we get such unique albums from them.


I have some pretty strong feelings about the blunders made on NLOTH, which deserve to go down as some of their biggest.

1.  Should have opened with Fez/BB, and the shows should have as well.     
2.  Magnificent was just that and should have been the first single.

Otherwise, they shouldn’t have included Boots or Crazy Tonight.   They don’t fit an otherwise industrial feel which could have been perfect with the canons of Fez/BB, NLOTH, MOS, and Mags filling out Side A.

I am not a fan of Mercy, at all.   Sounds like I may be the only one that isn’t, but it would have been a turn off for me.

EBW would have been good to have been included if in its original version.     Perhaps way too polished for NLOTH otherwise?

Offline radiofreenewport

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #83 on: March 11, 2018, 05:23:06 PM »
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).

This is where I'd change their timeline as well. Leave NLOTH as more experimental and tour arenas instead of stadia. This puts them on a path of being supported by hardcore fans for being artistically interesting rather than continuing to chase mainstream success. SOI and SOE end up being more interesting and challenging, less Ryan Tedder.

Offline wons

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #84 on: March 11, 2018, 06:29:06 PM »
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Here’s a simple way to “fix” No Line On The Horizon.

Replace Stand Up Comedy and Get On Your Boots with Winter and Every Breaking Wave. Add “Soon” as the opening track. Add “Mercy” too while they’re at it.

Release Magnficent as the lead single in September 2008 with the album to follow in November 2008.

BOOM CHA. I fixed most of the big mistakes that didn’t need to happen with that album. (They sometimes make weird choices for lead singles).

This is where I'd change their timeline as well. Leave NLOTH as more experimental and tour arenas instead of stadia. This puts them on a path of being supported by hardcore fans for being artistically interesting rather than continuing to chase mainstream success. SOI and SOE end up being more interesting and challenging, less Ryan Tedder.

From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.

Offline Edgematic

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #85 on: March 12, 2018, 09:56:04 AM »
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login, where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.

Offline wons

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #86 on: March 12, 2018, 01:33:41 PM »
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login, where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.

I disagree. All That You Can't Leave Behind is one of U2's best albums. The songs are great, many are classics! Unlike Pop, this album was finished and completed, but more importantly, the songs worked and none of them had problems with them like half the songs on Pop. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was even better! No Line On The Horizon was a bit of a mis-step, but still worked well. The Current albums, Songs Of Innocence And Songs Of Experience, although not as good as ATYCLB and HTDAAB are right where they should be.

Offline popromancer

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #87 on: March 12, 2018, 03:55:47 PM »
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In a different thread The Exile makes an excellent point:

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Yeh U2 "where did it all go wrong"...

As much as I hate the album, I don't begrudge U2 making ATYCLB. After a decade of avante garde indulgence it was a move that made sense. But then from 2000 onward they have become obsessed with riding that wave of cultural approval with results that have been sometimes questionable and sometimes disastrous.

Their legacy would be much better if they had simply stepped down from their pedestal rather than being told to, or being knocked off it.

Though I quite like ATYCLB, I agree with the basic point, and it leads to an interesting thought experiment:

How would you change U2's history, at a single moment in the band's career?

The question might be particularly interesting if you're not entirely happy with how things have unfolded for the band, and the answer would produce something that would be recognizable to readers of the genre called You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login, where, for example "The Man in the High Castle" is set in a world where the Allies lost World War II.  In that TV series, the United States was subsequently conquered and divided by the Axis Powers.

An alternate timeline would emerge from changing the band's history at one key point, and that imagined timeline would be as interesting to me as the change in history itself.

I have my own alt-timeline, which I'll cover briefly describe below.

Although it was a great tour and the album was ok, I think it would have been better for them career wise to have skipped POP and the POPMART Tour. Move up All That You Can't Leave Behind to 1997 and then go from there. It would not have to be exactly the same and could still flirt a little with the 90s alternative stuff, but would be more focused on the style of ATYCLB circa 2000. I think it would have been a huge success and the band would have done really well. Hot album and tour on the heels of Achtung Baby/Zooropa/ZOO TV, loved by both fans and critics.

Interesting idea. Music in the late 90s had kinda moved on to more of that ATYCLB style rather than what U2 had done with Pop.

Not yet, it hadn't.  1997 was the year of the Spice Girls and Radiohead.  The stripped-down quasi-retro "garage rock" that dominated the early 2000s was a reaction to the music of the mid-late 90s.  Bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes weren't around yet.

U2 in 1997 were in a very difficult spot.  People point to 1991 and AB as a make-or-break moment for the band, and it was, but they were basically right back there in 1997, except they were 6 years older and not as familiar to a new generation of fans that were in high school/college.  They were due for a backlash, and despite POP being a wonderful album, it slipped through the cracks between older fans who didn't *get* it, and younger music listeners who weren't interested. 

Personally, I remember being led to believe that ATYCLB was meant as a side-step; a moment to point out to the world that, if they so chose, U2 could crank out an album of radio-friendly songs.  The biggest feeling I got from ATYCLB upon its release was the overall effortlessness it projected, in a good way.  It sounded like they could have written it in a few weeks.  "Hey, we can do this if we want to, but this stuff isn't all we do." they seemed to be saying.

And then it was a big hit, and they've worked oh so hard to sound so effortless ever since.  And it hasn't worked.  The side-step ended up being their preferred path, and one that, IMO, they should never have taken.

On a separate note, I recall rumors that they were going to release a half-live, half-studio album in 1998 or 1999 called "Rather Go Blind", but it never panned out.  I wish they had released that.
I never have heard any of that 'Rather go blind' album. Do you have any more information on that? Can you recall where you heard that rumor? I am wondering what new songs were planned to go on there. Also, it seems a bit double on the ' live part' as they already released the popheart e.p. But interesting it is..

Offline radiofreenewport

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #88 on: March 12, 2018, 07:16:43 PM »
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From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.


The thread is about what we wish they would have done, not what is rational or expected given their history.

And yes, there are artists who don't care about reaching every single possible fan live the way that U2 do. Pearl Jam and Radiohead, just off the top of my head, don't tour for as long or in as big of rooms as they could play.

Offline wons

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Re: Alternate History: Where would you change the U2 timeline?
« Reply #89 on: March 13, 2018, 12:05:29 AM »
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From day one, U2 have always wanted to top the charts with their music. No way in hell they would do an arena tour when there were 7.3 million people willing to buy tickets. An arena tour of 110 shows would only reach 2 million people locking out 5 million people. No artist would want to do something that would prevent 70% of the people willing to pay to see them live from being able to do just that.


The thread is about what we wish they would have done, not what is rational or expected given their history.

And yes, there are artists who don't care about reaching every single possible fan live the way that U2 do. Pearl Jam and Radiohead, just off the top of my head, don't tour for as long or in as big of rooms as they could play.

Actually when it comes to Pearl Jam and Radiohead, that is a popular myth. Both bands tour like any other artist and charge ticket prices at their market value. Radiohead is not as popular as many of their fans believe and I have seen the boxoffice data that shows that.