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"I was Changed By Rock and Roll"

Musings on shows and introspective resolution. Yeah right.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wilco, Chicago, Day 5

Sunken Treasure
One By One
Shoulda Been Ashamed
You Are My Face
Side With The Seeds
Pot Kettle Black
War On War
Pieholden Suite #@*
Muzzle of Bees#
It's Just That Simple
I Thought I Held You
What Light @
When You Wake Up Feeling Old #
Jesus ETC #
Hummingbird #


Via Chicago
Blood Of a Lamb#@
Can't Stand It@
Box Full of Letters
Heavy Metal Drummer
Hate it Here@#
Thanks I Get @
Just a Kid
Red Eyed and Blue #
I Got You
Casino Queen
I'm a Wheel
Less Than You Think# (w/drone)

e: I'm the Man Who Loves You
Dreamer In My Dreams


It's amazing this's come to an end, this bizarre, bizarrely redeeming trip to Chicago. The band seems to have sensed the craziness, finally, playing a show that amounted to a greatest-hits of the past few days (Stiratt sings again! Box Full of Letters Electric! The Thanks I Get With Horns!) and a couple of rarities that were slam dunks (I still can't believe they played "Just a Kid.")

The sense of fun was palpable on stage and thankfully made its way to the balcony for the second set; before that, it was a lot of sitting and wondering why people'd made the trip. Stirrat nailed one of the best bass-bin jumps I've ever seen during "I Got You", and he and Jeff hugged after "It's just that Simple," which was very very sweet.

"Less Than You Think" was...difficult. I'm thinking the song is actually about Tweedy's resentment at being called genius for his experimentalism ("there's so much less/to this than you think") and that the end drone coda is almost a dare: "call this great. we have no clue what the fuck we're doing." Once that came into my mind, I almost wanted to jump the stage and slap the man: it's fine to be humble, but another thing altogether to be dismissive.

Of course, the drone was beautiful. Even if he has no idea what he's doing. So there is that.

Sliding scale: 8.5

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wilco, Chicago, night 4

The setlist:
Outtamind (Outtastite)
I must Be High
Impossible Germany
Radio Cure
Leave Me Like you Found Me*
Company on My Back
Handshake Drugs
War on War
Shake it off
In A Future Age
Shot in The Arm
Poor Places ->
Reservations ->
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
On and On And On
Hotel Arizona
Too Far Apart
Was I In Your Dreams@
Someday Soon
California Stars
Hate it Here@
The Thanks I Get@
I'm the Man Who Loves You@
I'm a Wheel
Outtamind (Outtasite)
e: The Late Greats


From minute one, it was clear that everyone in Wilco was aware that tonight's show was being broadcast on the radio to far more people than the 2500 of us crammed into the Riviera; it was also clear that they really didn't care. The opener -- the Sesame Street-ish version of Outtasite (Outtamind) was anti-radio unless all of a sudden it's 1967 again; anyone tuning in accidentally probably thought that the DJ had unearthed some previously-unavailable Beach Boys b-side.

And so it continued: the noisiness of "Poor Places," the swollen intimacy of "On And On And On" (delivered by Jeff in his best Eddie Vedder, huddled under his denim coat as the band played the interlude), the horn-y, horny desperation of "The Thanks I Get." Sure, the second set was stacked with rockers, and apparently in Chicago "Walken" is like the equivilant of, say, Paramore, but it sure seemed like the set was put together to turn all but the biggest fans off.

Which is to say: wow.

Set one was very possibly my favorite wilco set I've ever seen: somewhere in the middle of it they just coalesced. Glenn hit these enunciated beats in "Poor Places" that made me melt. "Spiders" sounded like I was hearing it for the first time. At some point, Pat did that Pete Townshend thing he does and it was as if he'd just invented it.

So even if it fell off a bit -- it did -- I left smiling, remarking (again) about how taking this trip was a great decision. Tonnight, there are only 5 album tracks left -- meaning either a repeat-heavy show, or (one can hope) one full of rarely-heard songs, perfect for those of us who made the journey.

I will try to understand, either way.

Sliding scale: 9

Check out the official review here

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wilco, Chicago, night 3

The Setlist:
Blue Eyed Soul
Remember the Mountain Bed #
Bob Dylan's 49th Beard #
Hesitating Beauty #
That's Not The Issue #
Wishful Thinking
You Are My Face
Side With the Seed
Shot in the Arm
We're just Friends
Handshake Drugz
How To Fight Loneliness #
Jesus Etc #
Should've Been In Love
Pick Up the Change #
Walken @
I'm the Man Who Loves You @


Set II:
Via Chicago
Impossible Germany
She's a Jar
Do you Miss Me
Box Full of Letters
Always In Love
Hate It Here #@
Late Greats #@
Red Eyed & Blue #
I Got You #
Monday @
e: My Darling
e2: Can't Stand It @


Anyone who's ever followed a band closely knows that the setlist doesn't tell the whole story; on paper, this third night should've been a jawdropper. 5 rarities to open, an encore that included a song that hadn't been played in a decade, horns, andrew bird, and a roaring second set.

But instead, it came up short: the band seemed a bit stiff (though Nels certainly gave Via Chicago his all) and some of the older songs -- "Always In Love," "Do You Miss Me" -- were rough around the edges. The audience, too, was missing some of that urgency, probably due to the bitter, blistering cold outside.

Still, there was magic: hearing "We're Just Friends" for the first time reminded me of how I used to feel about that song in college (and unfortunately prompted a text message I'd rather forget;) "Hate It Here" exploded with horns to be a soul-drenched frenzy, and, motsly, "How To Fight Loneliness," re-arranged into a samba shuffle, Glenn Kotche barely touching the cymbal that propelled the song.

Wilco sliding scale: 7. But a solid one.

Tonight....well, Pieholden Suite!

Click here for my official story

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wilco, Chicago, Night 2

Not just a superlative Wilco show, but a superlative night, with superlative people, all of whom I'd have been hesitant to call superlative before last night. I haven't done one of these music road trips all alone for a long time; hanging with Steve, Drea, and Kelly was a reminder of what I was missing: the anything-goes, all-bets-are-off awesomeness that comes from being among your kind.

First, the setlist:
Someone Elses Song
Hell Is Chrome
Handshake Drugz
Muzzle of Bees
I am Trying To Break Your Heart
Hotel Arizona
Shot In The Arm
Impossible Germany
It's Just that Simple*
When You Wake Up Feeling Old
Too Far Apart
Hate It Here
Jesus, Etc#
Forget The Flowers#
Dash 7#
Christ For President#
I'm the Man Who Loves You$


The Late Greats
Heavy Metal Drummer
Red Eyed & Blue #
I Got You
Magazine Called Sunset
Monday $
Casino Queen
Passenger Side #
Dreamer In My Dreams#
The Lonely 1 #
e: ELT
Hoodoo Voodoo

* Stirratt on Vox
# W/Andrew Bird
$ W/Horns

After saying a quick Hello to Pat Sansone on the street, Steve and I met up at what we soon realized was perhaps the only gay sports bar on the planet for a pre-show beer.

What's amazing about these things is how we both can geek out, entirely, without any apologies: an hour of talking about what they'd play there led to meeting up in the front section with Kelly and Andrea -- whom we continued to pontificate with before being pushed up against the railing in back by some inconsiderate assholes who drank our air and stole our souls.

Thankfully, after reminding myself I could just decide to leave and balcony it, I did. Smartest thing I've done: gone was the view of the back of one man's head, and instead a wide stage-view where I could make out actual people. And, man, did they play: Dash 7 was lovely and intimate (only the 7th time played -- and I'd seen it once before, at the Fonda), while even the repeats found new ground (Walken, for one, seemed more punctuated.) Poor Andrew Bird: sits in for half the show, but can only be heard while whistling on Red Eyed & Blue.

I had no seat, so I sat on the stairs; not only was I delivered drinks, but I screamed alogn with the guy next to me, who was beyond pleased that I shared his predeliction towards the singalong. After "i'm The Man Who Loves You", he looked at me and said "you gotta love Chicago -- everyone's singing along!" I asked if he was from here.

Of course not. He flew in from Ontario. Genius.

Potentially the best wilco show I've seen, thanks to a phenomenal setlist, a rowdy audience (they wouldn't let the band leave; pre encore the house lights came up, PUSA's "peaches" came on, and raodies started taking down the stage: ELT and Hoodoo Voodoo were actual, real-life encores. Not only that, the latter featured a Nels vs Pat call and response solo. Ridiculous)

Also ridiculous: the rest of our night. Chinese food (nothing was supreme about that seafood, but goddamn that pineapple and ginger chicken: you do it to me every time) and bar-hopping with 18-year old burnouts and kids way cooler than anyone I ever spend time with (or would like to spend time with.) Steve, you're right: If I was banned from the second club for leading the Electric Slide, I don't want to be a member of that club anyways.

Tonight: Live band Karaoke. Anyone following along at home that I've bitched to about needing the right trip to reset my engine? I think I found it.

Click here for my official review