08 December 2008

Wilco @ Auditorium Theatre

Forget the Flowers, You Are My Face, Hummingbird, Muzzle of Bees, IATTBYH, Handshake Drugs, War on War, Via Chicago, Jesus, etc., Impossible Germany, A Shot in the Arm, California Stars, Hate It Here, Walken, I'm The Man Who Loves You
E1: Poor Places> Spiders (Kidsmoke)
E2: Passenger Side, The Late Greats, Heavy Metal Drummer, Kingpin, Monday> Outtasite (Outta Mind)

An expectedly great show was put on by Wilco Saturday night. The local media built it up as a possibly special and unique show, being that it was an off night from their opening slot on the Neil Young tour, and also that they are in between albums with the possibility of hearing some of the new tunes they have been road testing recently. Then there was this whole rumor that had the Flaming Lips opening the show. I hadn't heard that one until I queried google to find out the opener hours before the show (It was Jennifer O'Connor, who put on a nice little 30m non-power rock trio set, with 2 or 3 superb gems in there, I look forward to hearing more from her). Another local media outlet has already reviewed the show as being a special show too. But let it be known, the most unique part of this show was that it was their first visit to the city of Rochester. Don't take that as a negative view, it's just the facts. This was a super solid set put on by Tweedy and the boys, but nothing really veered from the ordinary of what we can always expect to be a fantastic rock concert, as sure a thing as there is in the music industry these days.

If you left the show wondering when was the last time Wilco had played in Rochester, you clearly were either completely wasted or were texting and twittering too much to comprehend what was happening around you. Mr. Tweedy mentioned the fact at length too many times to count over the course of the evening. Also, if you found yourself wondering if Glenn Kotche, Wilco's drummer, was an appreciated member of the band, where were you Saturday night? Between the array of flowers left in front of the kit, the opening number of Forget the Flowers, and the repeated taunts, jabs, and kudos heaped onto Kotche by Tweedy, it was hard to leave the theater without knowing how Kotche had to miss the last show due to a solo gig at Carnegie Hall. All this to say, Rochester was one hell of a lucky city to get the privilege to enjoy Wilco's company this weekend. Even if it was their first time here. I tried to consider the logistics of jumping off a larger tour to play a one off gig in a small city that wasn't even exactly on the way from point a to point b (for example, what did they do to get their regular stage set for the show, I'm just assuming they aren't touring with that for the Neil Young tour). Throw on top of that that your drummer had to come in special up from NYC to make the show. I am still wondering why it was they decided they needed to play this gig on their off night.

Regardless, they did come. And it was good, and appreciated, by me and thousands of others at the quickly sold out show. My seats were in the very last row of the balcony. Not the best seats in the house, but it had its advantages. I could stand the whole time without bothering the other members of the balcony, very few of which were standing during most of the show. Also, no one was behind me singing every word off-key directly into my ears. And the sound, the sound was as good as I have heard in a long long time. It was like wearing a nice pair of studio headphones plugged directly into the soundboard. I am sure it sounded great throughout the room, but there's no way it sounded any better than it did where I was sitting. It just couldn't get any better, every note, every instrument, nothing was lost, no distortion, even in the most cacophonous of times, everything came through crystal clear. Not too loud, not too quiet.

The song selection wasn't too out of the ordinary, but it did have a great cross-section from their different periods, not too heavy from any one album. It was my first time seeing them since Sky Blue Sky, so my first Impossible Germany, which is the live standout from that album. That ended with a nice Allmans-esque dual guitar jam coupled with Nels doing some Santana styled guitar work on top of that. Sounded damn good. The highlight of the show, for me at least, came in the first encore, Poor Places and Spiders. As much as I love the twangy side of things, Wilco's dabbling in experimental rock is some of my favorite. The Spiders I thought really stood out as being an extraordinary version, this song has come a long way. The trancey interludes have turned into great spacey little jams that don't drag at all like they tended to in the past.

And then, in classic Wilco fashion, the second encore leaves you feeling absolutely stuffed to the gills, sated to say the least. They said they wouldn't wait too long to return to Rochester, and indeed I received an email from the promoter saying they hope to have them back at the Highland Bowl this summer. That would be just fine by me.

My crappy youtube offering has been upgraded to a halfway decent youtube as I received a new camera this weekend. Being that this was shot in the last row, it is a bit distant, but the quality is much improved if I do say so myself.

UPDATE: Download a SBD/AUD matrix of the show HERE

1 comment:

azltron said...

I love your blog! I've covered or am in line to cover all of the recent shows you've done! I'd love to put you on my blogroll if you'll do the same.