23 June 2007

Unlock My Body and Move Myself to Dance

I saw one helluva amazing show Tuesday night: Wilco. At Chastain Park Amphitheater. In the rain.

It’s been years since I last saw Wilco live — all the way back to September 2001, at the Roxy, right after Reprise Records rejected Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and they were looking for a new label home. That was a great, raucous show.

I went with the Scriveners in January to see the solo Jeff Tweedy show — with the always entertaining, always adorable Scott McCaughey as opening act. Fan-damn-tastic show, much different from what I thought I'd see. I really should have written about that one, but I was on a bit of a blog break. Scrivener tells that story well.

I was lucky enough to go with the Scriveners to see this Wilco show. Wilco is Scrivener’s R.E.M., and it’s always fun to see a concert with someone who feels that level of passion for the band. He got us seats on the tenth row, in the center. We didn’t see much of Scrivener once Wilco hit the stage, though; he moved up to the front to get photos, and watched most of the show from there. Mrs. Scrivener, my niece and I held down the tenth row.

Tweedy’s barely visible under the center spotlight

I see a fair amount of concerts every year, so getting my aural socks blown off takes a lot. Of the ten or so shows I’ve seen this year, Tuesday’s Wilco show is the best so far (followed closely, very closely, by January’s Glenn Tilbrook show; I may still write about that one, it was so fab).

I’m still mystified why Wilco doesn’t get any radio play. We have two alt-rock commercial stations in Atlanta, neither of which have played a Wilco tune to my recollection. Couldn’t they take three or four of those droning Dave Mathews songs (they all sound the same, so nobody will notice) and plug in some Wilco? My brother and sister-in-law heard some of the Wilco show broadcast from Bonnaroo last weekend, and they liked what they heard. I think most people would like the Wilco they hear. Programmers, are you listening (well, reading)?

Why was it such a great show? Well, first of all, you have Wilco on stage. A healthy, enthusiastic Wilco.

How do you get the band enthused? By dancing in the rain. Atlanta’s been suffering through one mutha of a drought this year, one of the worst we’ve had in years. So bad that planned Fourth fireworks displays are already being canceled. But not Tuesday.

It was a dark and stormy night.

The sky blue skies faded into rain clouds, clouds that soaked the city. And the Wilco show was an outdoor one. It misted during the opening act (Low), but it started pouring as soon as Wilco hit the stage. And continued to rain hard throughout the show, until the second encore.

But did that stop the Wilco fans? Hell, no! We donned rain ponchos, wiped off running mascara, and danced the night away. Glances to the back of the amphitheater showed that maybe 95 percent of us hung in for the full show, standing and dancing and singing. Abandoning the adult in the rain probably added to the greatness of the show, but it would have been kick-ass show in sunshine, too.

The niece enjoys a night soaked with Wilco

More soaked fans

The guys in Wilco got a kick out of it. Tweedy said they could see what we were standing in so he was going to “minimize the talk and maximize the rock.” And maximize they did. Those guys played their hearts out. Tweedy’s voice was lovely, perfect on a rainy night (on any night, for that matter). I think they’re better live than on albums … and they’re fabulous on their albums.


Either Way
You Are My Face
Impossible Germany
Sky Blue Sky
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Handshake Drugs
Shot in the Arm
Side with the Seeds
Shake It Off
War on War
Jesus Etc.
Hate It Here
I'm the Man Who Loves You

Encore 1:
Via Chicago
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 2:
Heavy Metal Drummer
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Sky Blue Sky is one of my favorite albums so far this year … and what a thrill it was to hear Wilco kick off the show with the first four tracks. And they performed many of my favorites. I have way too many Wilco faves to expect to hear them all. The one I most wanted to hear and dance to was “Heavy Metal Drummer,” and I got that thrill during the second encore. The rain slowed to a trickle about halfway through that number.

The aforementioned Ms. Lemke was also at the show. A Wilco newbie, she left happy and thrilled. There were two songs she most wanted to hear — “Impossible Germany” and “Jesus Etc.” — and she got to experience both.

Six years is too long between Wilco shows, I discovered. From this point on, I’ll do my damndest to catch every Wilco tour.

p.s. My photos suck. My camera got too wet, I’m a bit too short to shoot in a crowd, and I’m not a great photographer. Click over to Scrivener’s page; he’s in the process of uploading his far superior photos on Flickr.

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UPDATE: Check out Scrivener’s photos of the show!

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At 6/23/2007 11:59:00 AM, Blogger lulu said...

Jesus, etc is the best song ever. Glad you had a good time with my boys!

At 6/23/2007 05:34:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

It sounds like it was a great time! I've been trying all day to get Wilco tickets for the August show here, but they don't seem to be up yet - those bastards at Ticketmaster.

I agree that Wilco are beyond awesome live; one of the best shows I was ever at was a Wilco show. I'm not all that taken with Sky Blue Sky for some reason, but I'm sure they'll be playing some of my favs.

At 6/23/2007 11:19:00 PM, Blogger Scrivener said...

Great write-up of the show. I'm being slow about getting all my pics uploaded, but hope to have them soon.

At 6/24/2007 06:06:00 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"We have two alt-rock commercial stations in Atlanta, neither of which have played a Wilco tune to my recollection."

Just as a gag, they should go the "Emo" or "Goth" route for just one video.

That will get them on MTV2 (at least that's all they seem to play on that channel) and that will get them on alt-rock station out here. As the DJs on Live 105 keep mentioning that they saw a particular group's video on that channel, just before I swear that station off and put a CD on.

At 6/24/2007 02:28:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

Whoa. You are hard-core, standing in the rain to groove to Tweedy and Co. But how I loved Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and listened to it until everyone around wanted to kill me!

At 6/24/2007 06:50:00 PM, Blogger bigshoulders said...

Six years is too long between Wilco shows, I discovered. From this point on, I’ll do my damndest to catch every Wilco tour.

I would be in serious withdrawal if I had to wait six years! ;) Great review of the show. Tweedy asked if there were any folks from Atlanta in the crowd (there were) and he asked: "Are you still wet?" Now I know why!

I would have been right there dancing in the rain too. The last time REM played Raleigh, it rained on the level of this show, from what it sounds like. It didn't stop those of us on the lawn from dancing and just having a grand time, getting soaked, but smiling all the while.

Good times.

I am keeping my fingers crossed they'll be swinging through the Southeast once again... maybe in the Autumn? One can hope.


PS: "Maybe the sun will shi-ine today..."

At 6/25/2007 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Glad you liked the show, Beth! I saw Wilco in Chicago a while back and thought they were great.

At 6/25/2007 11:23:00 AM, Anonymous CDLemke said...

Enjoyed your review of the show...and thanks for the setlist.. was looking for that!

At 6/25/2007 11:40:00 AM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

Thanks for the evite!


At 6/25/2007 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

The sky blue skies faded into rain clouds

Drat! You just robbed me of the perfect comment. And yes, I was going to say something very similar!

Sounds like it was great fun! You deserve it Beth.

At 6/25/2007 05:42:00 PM, Anonymous gifted typist said...

Saw Wilco last summer on a beautiful full moon in an outdoor venue next to the harbour - to say it was magic would not do the evening justice.

At 6/25/2007 09:48:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I saw WIlco once, many years ago. I think when "Summerteeth" came out. I've never thought their recordings properly captured their spirit. They're a much better live band.

At 6/25/2007 11:46:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

LULU: Your boys said hi.

BARBARA: It took me a week or two to get into Sky Blue Sky; now I can't get enough of it. Here's hoping you snag good seats.

SCRIVENER: As always, I had a GRAND time with you and the missus.

WRITE PROCRASTINATOR: Guess what!!! In today's paper, they listed a new Wilco tune — "What Light" — as the most-played song on one of our stations. I ranted, and I was heard.

KFLUFF: The entire amphitheater was hardcore, so it was easy to stay in the rain. And it was as fab as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

BIG SHOULDERS: I meant to run that line in the post ... but my rain-soaked brain forgot. Wasn't it a great show???

At 6/25/2007 11:50:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

CHRIS: You and the little lady need to trek to Chicago for their next hometown show.

CD LEMKE: You're very welcome. But you should really thank Scrivener; he sent it to me on Friday. He's the Wilcoman.

GRANT MILLER: It bounced back. We kept looking for you. We finally used your seat for our purses. Thanks!

DAN: I did deserve it, didn't I? Sort of like some Wilco baptism.

GIFTED TYPIST: You lucky, lucky Typist. How lovely would that be!

BECKEYE: Completely agree. Did you catch them in your area over the weekend?

At 6/26/2007 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Sounds like a great show Beth from your excellent review. I'm still not very Wilco smart but I like what I've heard.

At 6/26/2007 11:36:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I'll get you some Wilco, my good invisible friend.

At 6/27/2007 07:13:00 PM, Blogger Allison said...

Sounds like the concert was aces! I'm so glad I can live through concerts reviews from you all :)

I wasn't too taken with their latest album, but I do enjoy the rest of their library.

At 6/28/2007 10:11:00 AM, Blogger gizmorox said...

Aw. I love Wilco. They're going to be doing a similar outdoor thing in my home state that my brother has tickets for and I'm so jealous. I'm glad you had such a great time!

At 6/29/2007 08:40:00 AM, Blogger Scrivener said...

Just FYI, my full set of Wilco photos is up on Flickr now. I got some gooduns.

At 6/29/2007 10:10:00 AM, Anonymous m said...

really amazing photos, there mr scrivener. did you get close enough to show off your tattoo to the boys?

i am not talking to you, ms. beth coz i am speechless about YOU not seeing WILCO for SIX years. wtf??

At 6/30/2007 11:18:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

ALLISON: I was so-so on Sky Blue Sky on the first few listens ... and then suddenly I just loved it. Give it another spin.

GIZMOROX: Should have invited you up to Atlanta. They're playing the West Coast later this summer; go there!

SCRIVENER: I think you missed your calling; you could be our generation's Leibowitz!

M: Scrivener saved my aural soul.

At 6/30/2007 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"WRITE PROCRASTINATOR: Guess what!!! In today's paper, they listed a new Wilco tune — "What Light" — as the most-played song on one of our stations. I ranted, and I was heard."

Methinks either Mr. Stipe or Ms. Fonda put in a word on your behalf.

At 7/01/2007 05:49:00 AM, Blogger Scrivener said...

M: I didn't really get to show them the tattoo, though after reading the Via Chicago forums it seems that if I'd brought my eldest, who would have loved to have seen them, we'd have had a decent chance of getting backstage and then I could've. Maybe next time.

At 7/03/2007 06:42:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

WRITE PROCRASTINATOR: It helps to run with a powerful crowd, that's for sure.

SCRIVENER: You should hit the road with Eldest and snag that backstage pass. She charms every musician in the room.


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