Like a sports team that falls way behind early, Radiohead tried valiantly to rally from momentum-derailing technical difficulties early in their Friday night headlining set at Coachella, but could never quite overcome the setback.

Radiohead, playing as the headliner here for the third time, twice had to exit the stage within the first seven songs of their set while technicians tried to fix the speakers that first buzzed and then went out entirely.

Both times it created an awkward scene as the band played on, singing and wailing away on their instruments, unaware that no one could hear them. When notified at song’s end, they shrugged and trudged off the stage while workers scrambled to fix the problem.

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After the second time, frontman Thom Yorke finally addressed the crowd when the band returned to the stage.

“Can you actually hear me now?” he asked to a nice applause from the now-thinner crowd. “I’d like to tell a joke and lighten the mood, but we’re Radiohead so (expletive) it.”

The band then went right into their eighth song, Street Spirit, and never had any more trouble the rest of the night, but the damage had been done.

The crowd tried to be encouraging both during the outages and after, but could never get fully entranced as Radiohead crowds often do.

“Oh good you’re still here,” Yorke quipped as the clock struck midnight.

Being veterans of decades of success and nine albums, the band handled the situation like pros, finding a nice groove, but the tone wound up being closer to apologetic than powerful the rest of the night.

It’s a shame, because a nice tone had been set. The band created a mellow mood, opening with Daydreaming as they have throughout this U.S. tour. The song was accompanied by a white light show as slivers of light emanated from the stage and into the waiting crowd.

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But during the band’s third song, the sound went out for about five seconds. During their fifth song — “15 step” —  it went out entirely. The band exited the stage for about four minutes, and returned to a working sound system. But two songs later it happened again. This time the crowd was less forgiving as several gave up and moved away from the main stage to one of the other acts on smaller stages around the grounds.

The band returned, again after only about a five-minute break, and finished the set without incident.

One surprise later in the night was that they played their biggest hit, Creep. It’s a song they rarely do on tour anymore and hadn’t played at all on this current tour. Perhaps it was planned, or perhaps it was an olive branch to the patient crowd. Creep sent them off stage again, this time it was intentional, as they came back to applause with a long encore, which included No Surprises and Paranoid Android among others. They played all the way until 12:52 a.m., more than two hours total.

Radiohead also headlined this festival in 2004 and 2012. They will get another crack at it next Friday during Weekend 2 of Coachella. The Saturday headliner is Lady Gaga and Sunday is Kendrick Lamar.