There is something about Coulas family weddings and Wilco shows. For the second time in three years, a Chicagoland Wilco show has followed a family wedding. After a fun, but exhausting weekend in Minneapolis celebrating my brother’s wedding, it was not only time to come home, but it was also time to see one of my favorite bands, Wilco.
[Photo via @Clark_Maxwell]
The last time I saw Wilco, the circumstances were a little different. It was mid December and the band was holed up at some of the Chicago’s smallest venues as part of their “Incredible Shrinking Tour.” With the MLB All-Star break upon us and my Chicago White Sox in first place, I looked forward to seeing Wilco playing centerfield at Fifth Third Ballpark in Geneva, Illinois.
The weather was not only perfect for baseball, but also for a concert. Due to my flight being delayed and some parking issues, I missed sets by The Congregation and Andrew Bird. I arrived at my seat about 20 minutes before Wilco took the stage.
One of Wilco’s guitar techs was holding Nels Cline double neck guitar stage right, so I knew that a Dawned On Me opener was in store. It’s my favorite song from The Whole Love and it was a great way to kickstart the sold out crowd. The band would follow that up with War On War, I Might and I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
Spiders (Kidsmoke) is one of my favorite Wilco songs and while I enjoy the stripped down version they performed, it’s hard to beat the band blowing off some steam with some straight up power chord rock. Nels was up to his usual antics during Impossible Germany and during Born Alone, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone picked up his guitar and joined Tweedy and Cline in a three guitar barrage.
[Photo via @KCChronicle]
The only real bustout of the evening came in the form of the Being There cut Say You Miss Me. The song was played for only the third time since 2008. After a well placed Candyfloss that kept the set flowing, Jeff Tweedy invited Andrew Bird to the stage for Jesus, Etc. Bird sat in with Wilco for the same song in 2008 during their Winter Residency at the Riv.
Wilco would close the formal set with the crowd pleasing I’m The Man Who Loves You. The band would treat fans to a tremendous double encore. The first encore began with an unbelievable pairing of Via Chicago and Art of Almost. Both songs feature two very different, but distinct sections. The later song saw the danceable synth and bass lines give way to Nels Cline playing his outro solo at speeds that would make the folks at the nearby Fermilab blush.
The second encore would see the band pay tribute to Woody Guthrie. Jeff Tweedy announced that Woody would’ve been 100 this year and the band launched into California Stars with a little help from Andrew Bird. Keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and Pat Sansone each took turns leading the song in between Andrew Bird’s fine playing.
After a quick take on The Late Greats, another Woody Guthrie tune would close the show as the cowbell-infused Hoodoo Voodoo sent fans dancing to the exit. The song would close with a fantastic cross-stage guitar duel between Nels Cline and Pat Sansone.
Last night might not have been the best Wilco show I’ve ever seen, but the band definitely hit a home run with the venue and setlist. Like a pitcher who just pitched a great game, Wilco deserved the “Standing O” that their hometown fans gave them.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Fifth Third Bank Ballpark
Set: Dawned on Me, War on War, I Might, I am Trying to Break Your Heart, Box Full of Letters, Handshake Drugs, Spiders (Kidsmoke)$, Impossible Germany, Born Alone, Laminated Cat%, Side with the Seeds, Say You Miss Me, Candyfloss, Jesus, Etc.^, Hate it Here, Whole Love, I’m Always in Love, Heavy Metal Drummer, I’m the Man Who Loves You
Encore 1: Via Chicago, Art of Almost, Standing O, A Shot in the Arm
Encore 2: California Stars^, The Late Greats, Hoodoo Voodoo*
Notes: $ – Performed acoustic, % – Electric arrangement, ^ – w/ Andrew Bird, * – w/ Wilco crew member Josh on cowbell