Describing Alternative/Rock/Kind-of Country-ish band Wilco to someone who has never listened to them can prove to be quite the difficult task, as I found out when my Nickelback listening co-workers replied to me that they had never so much as heard of the fantastic Chicago-based band. They aren’t exactly a “radio-friendly” band, especially in my area. But, over the last number of years, Wilco has been gaining quite a semi-underground following as a groovy band that produces original and award-winning music. And on April 16th, 2009, I was given the opportunity to watch this band perform live, and I have to be honest when I say that they put on a very enjoyable show.
After an eclectic opening act, Wilco took the stage to thunderous applause, and commenced to rocking everyone in the Indiana University Auditorium’s faces right off. They dove head-first into the warm waters of their ENTIRE album-catalog, playing for a solid 120 minutes. Yes, that’s right. Wilco, a Grammy-Award winning band (for their 2004 album “A Ghost is Born…”) played to a crowd of college students for TWO HOURS.
And I’ll be honest. Not once during that epic two-hour set did I tire of watching this band, headed by mastermind Jeff Tweedy, display a mastery of each of their respective instruments, segwaying into each song after a brilliant ending to the previous song (A skill Tweedy himself seemed quite proud of, as he would vocalize to the crowd in attendance).
26 songs. Most bands are pretentious enough to charge $50 for a Lawn Ticket, play for an hour, come on stage for a quick ten-minute Encore, and walk off stage to thunderous applause having disregarded a number of their popular songs in an effort to push their newer (oftentimes yet unheard) tunes. Wilco did none of that. They played 26 songs, each could be found on their previously released albums. It struck me they haven’t put out a new studio album since 2007, and I expected the show to be full of the music they are undoubtedly working on.
And then it struck me this band in particular, loves to perform to crowds of fans. They love, not to play songs they haven’t heard and won’t be able to sing along to, get involved in the show with, get chills when the notes are struck. (“Impossible Germany” particularly chilled me to the core).
The band appeared to be having the time of their lives playing to a crowd of rabid fans, and that was to be expected. A band full of true musicians, playing for a genuine love of their music and not the almighty DOLLAR. A band just happy to be doing what they love, for people who love what they do.
It was a treat to be full of an auditorium full of Wilco fans (and probably a number of people who were taking a chance on a live show, and walked out Wilco fans). I sat in the front row, center section of the balcony, truly a perfect seat. And I got to watch a band of masters of their craft do what they do best.
Tweedy and the gang put on a simple show, full of songs I love, in a manner I love. I was able to sit back, relax, prop my feet up on the railing of the balcony and just observe truly on the most underrated, criminally unheard bands of my generation.
I would categorize their show as one of, if not THE single best concert I have ever been to. Sure, it was small in scale, and not grand in production, but what it lacked in in-your-face concert theatrics, Wilco more than made up for by playing their music for two full hours. The crowd showed them love, and they showed it right back. And, I’m quite sure had it been physically possible, the entire crowd would have made sweet, passionate, epic love to the band, and even cuddled afterwards. Anything for a little more time with WILCO.
You Are My Face
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Company In My Back
Pot Kettle Black
Ashes Of American Flags
War On War
Bob Dylan’s Beard
Forget The Flowers
Can’t Stand It
A Shot In The Arm
The Late Greats
Heavy Metal Drummer
Hate It Here
I’m A Wheel