Wilco at The National 03/29/2010

by | Mar 31, 2010 | MUSIC

What a dream it was to see Wilco in this capacity. Imagine your favorite band, the promising news of a three-hour long set and a smaller than usual venue. I was actually concerned about having ridiculous expectations for the show. Wilco exceeded every single one of them.

What a dream it was to see Wilco in this capacity. Imagine your favorite band, the promising news of a three-hour long set and a smaller than usual venue. I was actually concerned about having ridiculous expectations for the show. Wilco exceeded every single one of them.

Entering the stage to the theme music from The Price is Right, the band started with “Wilco (The Song)” and literally did not stop or miss a beat the entire night. The set list spanned their entire discography and that is the wonderful thing about this band. Wilco utilizes their catalog in a way that feels rarely appreciated by most bands with a similar lifespan. Apparently, we were all treated to a first-ever full band performance of their tune “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime.” As much as I enjoy the band’s current output, there is nothing quite like hearing live renditions of my favorite songs off of the pivotal release Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. “Poor Places” and “Ashes of American Flags” especially hit home incredibly hard.

To my understanding, conversations regarding this performance are finding more of a focus on Tweedy’s attitude as opposed to the music played. Throughout the set, Tweedy made mention of people chattering throughout the entire show. I personally did not have any difficulty listening to the band as a result of this (even during their acoustic set nudged in between their two main sets, which I might add had wonderful transitions from “Poor Places” into “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)” into “Misunderstood”). I have even heard that as Tweedy asked one overly excited fan to calm down, the person in question yelled fuck you at him. It is a shame that any of this had to go down, but unfortunately people do pay large amounts of money to attend events that pertain more towards their social interests as opposed to their musical interests. It’s an unfortunate reality, but I personally felt like I was seeing the best Wilco show I have ever seen. I hope this doesn’t dissuade the band from returning to this city. I think it should also be noted that the venue has received a great number of criticisms regarding their quality of sound. Last evening was easily the best sounding show I have attended there and the light show was impeccable. Kudos to the National and their staff for really upping their game.

After they closed out their second “loud” set with a Big Star cover of “Thank You Friends,” I was filled with thoughts surrounding the whole night. I thought about how bizarre of a band Wilco truly is. Their fan base isn’t really bound to one sect of the social stratosphere. You can easily expect to see men and women of the same age that probably wouldn’t be seen in the same place if it weren’t for a similar adoration of the band. Wilco can go from having a song sound like it was removed from the likes of Bob Dylan or they can have a song that explores the experimental nature of groups like Sonic Youth. Their songs can be heard in car commercials, but not necessarily on commercial radio. They make their money on the road and their live show earns a reputation deserving of this.

In a review I wrote regarding the band’s DVD release entitled Ashes of American Flags, I made several comments about Wilco as a live band. I recall saying: “The heart of Wilco is in their live performances.”

Last evening was further proof of this statement with a three-hour long set, several deep cuts and a band that is at their prime with no signs of peaking any time soon.

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me

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