Wilco (The Concert)

Speaking of music, we went to go see Wilco last Sunday.

Due to the very gracious Uncle Crappy, Dan and I got pre-sale Wilco tickets.

I hadn’t seen Wilco since their last visit to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, which was in the summer of 2004, and I recall that because I was pregnant with Flora. (No wonder she loves their music so much!) But UC and his wife have seen them several times in the intervening years, and he talked about their shows often on his blog.

I knew this was an opportunity not to be missed.

And, holy cats, am I glad I jumped at the chance.

First of all, Jeff Tweedy has just gotten better as he’s, er, well, not to put too fine a point on it, aged. His voice is richer, his on-stage patter is more entertaining, and he is the undisputed leader of Wilco. It was good to see him up there, center stage, the faithful and extremely talented John Stirrat to his right (our view).

Second: Nils Cline is a guitar virtuoso. Which is something I probably should have figured out because I DO have the albums, but seeing it live is another thing altogether. Their rendition of “Impossible Germany” was gorgeous.

Third: The venue was also gorgeous. Wilco played The Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, which is a lovely building. It was filled to capacity, and the acoustics were perfect. It wasn’t too loud at all — I didn’t leave with that post-concert ear buzzing I’m so used to. At one point, I think during “Poor Places”, I took a seat (note to self: flip flops are not appropriate footwear for standing for THREE HOURS), and just stared at the ceiling. The sound was delectable.

Fourth: This band is TIGHT. They play live a lot, which I’m sure has plenty to do with it. Even when they launched into their jams/controlled chaos (which was often) they reigned it in and continued a song just beautifully. It was acoustic choreography — Dan says, on this point, “They can all count. They’re musicians.” But I was impressed by this.

Fifth: Did I mention they played for THREE HOURS? At one point, Tweedy said, “You’ll have to pay the babysitter a little extra tonight.” That was okay with me. (My exhaustion made Monday last forever, but we all survived.)

Sixth: The company was awesome.

Dan, too, enjoyed it. Wilco is one of “my” bands that he digs (some of the time). He likes the more straightforward stuff, and is a huge fan of their Mermaid Avenue material. Their version of “California Stars”, which was incredibly upbeat, made him very happy. In his opinion, they “hit the chaos button” too often, but he still really liked the show.

His other observations: The musicians on the right side of the stage (Tweedy, Stirrat, and Pat Sansone) “took their meds”. Those on the left (Cline, Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche) “did not”. This referred to the, er, thrashing about on one side of the stage. After six songs, he observed that Tweedy hadn’t even said hi yet, but I assured him Tweedy would have plenty to say. We were not disappointed.

I think I’ll try to see them again before six years passes. Just a thought.