September 13, 2007

nailed it!

"this is perfect" tweedy muttered to the crowd a couple songs into wilco's incredible performance at millennium park last night & i thought to myself, just about; perfect weather, perfect setting, perfect band & a perfect night...after seeing these guys close to twenty times, they've never been much better than they were last night, wailing through a fan selected setlist with genuine excitement & prowess...nels held most of my attention as he led the three guitar attack all night, but the whole band shined & tweedy was jovial & charismatic, even when ripping on the lawn patrons for not clapping along or apologizing to the non-observant jews for playing "jesus etc." on rosh hashanah...a few personal highlights included the short 80's guitar segment they added to the middle of "pot kettle black", the back porch outro tagged onto "misunderstood", the soulful high notes tweedy fought to reach during a rollicking version of "too far apart", the guitar workouts during "handshake drugs", "side with seeds", "impossible germany", & "spiders", & basically the whole country rock stomp of second encore...a lot of highlights, i know...anyways, twice last night, after straining his voice at the end of "too far apart" & after struggling with the whistling part on "red-eyed & blue", tweedy sarcastically exclaimed, "nailed it!"...& that's exactly how i feel about last night's show...they nailed it...also, congratulations to little gordy warty (due in october) on his first concert said he was kicking the whole time.

you are my face
i am trying to break your heart
pot kettle black
war on war
handshake drugs
side with the seeds
a shot in the arm
impossible germany
via chicago
jesus, etc.
too far apart
i'm the man who loves you
on and on and on
cars can't escape
spiders (kidsmoke)
second encore:
hate it here
box full of letters
california stars
heavy metal drummer
red-eyed and blue
i got you (at the end of the century)
casino queen
outtasite (outtamind)

dr. dog: i really dig these guys, but was suffering in the beer lines for most of their half hour set, & then went to meet some friends on the lawn for the rest of it...still, i liked what i heard.

biondi's take: i guess the show didn't resonate as well on the lawn...
I'd Like to Thank You All...For Nothing
Last night, the finest rock and roll band in Chicago played at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Wilco doesn't often -- or so I would imagine -- get the opportunity to play venues that offers such beautiful aesthetics, yet reek with corporate sponsorship and poor logistics. I doubt Frank Gehry had rock concerts in mind when he designed the band shell that looks like a chrome samurai's hat (What are those things called?). The setting couldn't be more perfect and the buildings to the north frame the venue in a way that can't be incidental.
Above the lawn section is a lattice-network of steel tubes that provide a place to mount smaller speakers. The problem is that because of this netting, there was no way for the grade of the lawn to be raised. The poor (think zero) sight lines gave the illusion that the "lawnies" were not actually at a concert. We stood maybe 20 yards back from the top of the pavilion seating and could only see the stage lights.
The lack of video monitors -- where would they even go? -- seemed to add to the disenfranchisement of the crowd and gave birth to thousands of conversations. These wasn't your average rock and roll chit-chat; mind you -- "This song fucking rocks" or "Look at that moron over there." -- it was more along the lines of: "Work was so awful today..." and "Christine's baby is so cute, but the last time I babysat, Steve called me and I was like totally not even into the baby at that point..." and even "Mmmm... what kind of cheese is this? It reminds me of this small specialty store on Champaign that sells the best gruyere... Are you sure this isn't gruyere, it tastes just like it...this has to be gruyere."
When did behavior like this become acceptable at rock shows?
It wouldn't have been so bad if these were isolated incidences, but there was a constant hum of hundreds of conversations behind the music. I understand that Wilco isn't exactly the definition of Rock, but come on. It is usually quite obvious when a band is asking for a sing-a-long, but that didn't matter last night. There was one particular asshole standing next to our group who must have thought he was on lead vocals. He was the kind of guy that has no chin and wears a backwards baseball cap -- You know the type -- and is obnoxious enough to think that everyone around him is eating his shit up. Unfortunately I don't have the mental fortitude to block out such douche-baggery and prefer to shoot these people dirty looks while adding to the background noise by making smart-ass remarks about his fashion decisions. I am no fashionista, but I know a jerk-off when I see one. The above-mentioned ding-a-ling was wearing one of those windbreaker-sweatshirt thingies.. You know...the kind with the v-neck; that I'm pretty sure are only distributed at golf outings and otherwise gather dust at college bookstores and pro-shops. What's up with those "shirts"?
While it seemed the entire crowd was there for no reason other than to piss on the collective experience of the concert, the music was always. The set spanned Wilco's entire catalogue and while there were many highlights, the ethereal --goose bump-producing -- beauty of Nels Cline's guitar licks on Impossible Germany made my night.
While I could continue to complain about the beer and bathroom lines; I don't want to give the impression that I didn't have a good time. Despite all of the things that were seemingly going against me, it was a great show and I'd do it again. -Mike Biondi

track info: i really like the story behind this song, tweedy wrote it for solomon burke's excellent 2002 album, don't give up on me, but didn't get it in on instead wilco recorded it for sky blue sky & didn't even put it on the album...tweedy explained the origin after playing it for the first time at the abbey pub last year, also saying that the next album was going to be a "dirty soul" record...i guess he meant the next next album.

download: jeff tweedy - the thanks i get (01/25/06)

related: speaking of tweedy solo shows, he's signed up to headline the old town school of folk 50th anniversary benifit concert at the auditorium theatre on 12/ go on sale this saturday at 11am...also performing; david bromberg, roger mcguinn, lonnie brooks, bela fleck, & the bloodshot family band...very cool.

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