Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wilco Winter Residency, Day 1

Wilco played just under three hours tonight, 31 songs in total with only a ten minute "pee break" and hardly any pauses in performing to even speak to the packed Rivieria audience.
I found out this morning that Amy, who I was supposed to see Wilco with tonight, was beyond sick, so I spent all day trying to find someone to take her ticket. One would think it wouldn't be a hard task, but one would be wrong. I got a lot of unreturned phone calls, a lot of "it's date night" (but can you really beat a date night with Jeff Tweedy? I doubt it.), and a few "not interesteds" (ahem, mom).
Finally, my friend Jenny called her brother JJ who in turn called me (two hours before the show) to tell me that his friend Vincent was never able to get tickets and being a huge fan would love the opportunity to go.
I was overly empathetic: When I first found out Wilco planned a 5-night "Winter Residency" for Chicago only with the intention of playing every song they'd ever recorded, I vowed to attend all five shows. When it came down to actually buying the tickets, though, I wasn't quick enough to purchase one of the Wilco website pre-sale $175 5-day passes, even though I clicked the button at the stroke of 10 a.m. and proceeded to click the damn button for the following half hour. The following day I attempted the same process through ticketmaster to get a 5-day pass. Lost again. Then I tried for the pre-sale single-day tickets, giving my credit card info to anyone who was on gChat at the time. I got two (Mon. and Tues.) out of the five (thanks again to Ben and Brianna!). Then the following day, I had one last chance, gave out my credit card info again and crossed my fingers. I ended up getting Friday, Abbey got Wed., and Chad (Amy's brother) got Saturday. I was elated! Of course I got the expected jeers, but this is how I rationalized spending $250 (that's a round-number price after buying all the tickets individually, i.e. ticketmaster charges up the wazoo). I've never had a manicure nor a pedicure nor dyed my hair, which are pretty normal day-to-day, week-to-week female maintenances, when if added all up over all the years most girls have been doing that stuff probably equals WAY more than my concert tickets.
How I explained it to my mom: This is like when you got to see The Beatles twice in one day in Chicago in '68.

The benefit of attending concerts alone is you're more likely to luck out with finding a leftover, but awesome seat. Which I did. Middle of the first row of the center section in the balcony. Perfect for picture taking, I thought, not at all envious of the jam-packed dance floor down below. Nothing about that looked appealing (despite the photo close-ups I could have taken)...despite the below-freezing weather outside, the theater was like a sweaty sauna, even before the show began. I took off my jacket and my sweater, shoved them under my seat, then rolled up the sleeves of my other shirt. As I sat there deleting old pictures off my memory card, the people next to me asked how I got past security with my camera. "It was surprisingly easy," I told them. "Usually I get in trouble everywhere I go with this thing, but the woman downstairs saw it and didn't say anything, so I'm just going with it."

Marty Lennartz from XRT did a quick intro, joking about people having "check lists." Oh if you only knew, Marty. He informed the audience that the radio station will be broadcasting Tuesday's show in its entirety beginning at 7:30 p.m. CST. So if anyone's interested, here's XRT's The Eclectic Company (whose current episode also features Jeff Tweedy as the guest) website: WXRT

Here's the night's 31-song set-list (I've been OCD about this since the first time I saw Dylan in August of 2000...I have this little blue notebook that among other jottings, poems and notes, has every Wilco and Dylan set-list from Sept. '04 to present):

1) ELT--It took me a long time to realize that "ELT" stands for "Every little thing," the repetitive words in the chorus (I mean back when I began listening to the band, it didn't just occur to me tonight)
2) Shot In the Arm--"We fell in love in the key C, we walked along down by the sea, I followed you down the neck to D, and we fell again into the sea, you've changed" was my ringtone in college (and not one I paid for, I found a function on my phone back then to record sound, and that's what I chose)
3) Side With The Seeds--hands down my favorite song on Sky Blue Sky when the album first debuted last spring..."But you and I will be undefeated/By agreeing to disagree"
4) You Are My Face--became a favorite on SBS
Jeff waved, but still no words.
5) I Am Trying To Break Your Heart--I could probably write a book about this song...Who knows how many times I listened to this through the giant headphones covering my ears as I wandered aimlessly around New York during college...

6) Pot Kettle Black
7) At Least That's What You Said

Of course I ended up sitting in front of the resident drunks, so every five minutes the waitress stood right in front of me either taking orders or delivering drinks. This caused many-a-spitballs to land on my forearm and many-a-drinks to spill on my coat. At least you can't smoke anymore, I thought, gratefully.
Jeff finally spoke!
How you doin'? Audience: Woooo!
Are you guys ok? Audience: YES!
Did you get frostbitten? Audience: YES!
All of you? Audience: YES!
Will you give us a million dollars? Audience: some YESes, some laughter
You guys just seem really agreeable? Audience: YES!
This is ridiculous. Are you below average intelligence? Audience: YES and BOO!
That was a mix, he said with a tone of surprise, and everyone laughed.

8) What's The World Got In Store--which they started to play and then Jeff stopped them, saying, "Hold on. We need to hear that," referring to the sound levels of Pat Sansone's banjo.
After they finished, he said, "That's a nice little ditty...We're going to play all recorded Wilco--not tonight--over five nights. And as an added bonus we'll throw in some Mermaid Avenue (two albums of Woody Guthrie songs performed by Wilco and Billy Bragg), B-Sides and unreleased material." Subsequently followed by enthusiastic cheering.
9) When The Roses Bloom Again

Jeff: I'd like to thank Nobody for opening for us. I find them quite tasteful.

10) Airline To Heaven
11) Ashes Of American Flags

Major whiffs of Mary Jane.

12) Either Way

Jeff: You guys are good singers. Keep. it up.

13) Jesus, Etc.--ironic that he sings "don't cry" and this is the only song that makes me want to

"Did you guys see us at the Grammys?" Jeff asked the crowd. "Did you see us on the red carpet? Did you see us get interviewed by Kermit the Frog? Damn. That was the best moment of my life...except for marrying you and having our kids, Sweetheart," he directed the comment to his wife Susie somewhere in the audience. "Foo Fighters?!" he questioned incredulously. A collective "BOOOOO!" arose from the crowd. "Or as my 8-year-old son calls them--the Poo Fighters." Hilarious.

14) Too Far Apart--"This is my American Idol audition," Tweedy joked towards the end of the song and proceeded to sing "Can't get any closer to you" in a high, breathy voice.

15) I Can't Stand It--3-piece horn section took the stage
16) Sunken Treasure--love the line, "music is my savior"
17) Spiders (Kidsmoke)--with a space-age intro both in sound and light

Halfway through, the inevitable happened. I got a little giddy with my camera during the crazy light show and gave away my otherwise inconspicuous photo ops, and sure enough two "security" men approached the guard rail in front of me. At first I thought he was going to yell at me for putting my feet up on the bar, but nope, it was my camera once again. He told me I shouldn't be taking pictures like I should know that. "Well the security people saw my camera when I came in and didn't say anything," I defended my actions. "Well they were hired by accident," he replied, loudly as Wilco was still jamming down below. "Fine, I won't take anymore," I said, trying to avoid what I anticipated he'd say next--that he was going to confiscate my camera. But unlike my Dylan fiasco, I thankfully did not get my camera taken away nor ejected from the show. The song ended and Jeff told us, "We've got a lot more to do tonight--take 5, take 10."
During the break, the people sitting next to me asked if "that" was about my camera. Then the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder to ask about the run-in and we discussed how it's impossible to bring an SLR camera to shows anymore. "It's totally unfair," I complained. "I'm going to do the same exact thing with my pictures (post them on flickr) as all the people flashing their little point-n-shoots. And I don't even use my flash!" He told me he actually went so far as to e-mail Wilco's management, and they wrote back saying the band does, in fact, welcome photography (and audio recording) at their shows. I told him he should print that e-mail and bring it with him to the remaining four shows.

18) Misunderstood--Glenn Kotche began drumming with no warning, the lights went down, and we were immediately drawn back in.

19) Far Far Away--people cheered when he sang "CTA" why? The CTA blows!

20) Why Would You Wanna Live--"You don't hear that one every day," Jeff commented at its conclusion.
21) Impossible Germany--ugh. I hate missing photogenic moments! Like Jeff and Pat playing side by side or Nels Cline going crazy on his guitar. My camera is burning a hole under my seat.
22) Sky Blue Sky
23) Please Be Patient With Me

People are so obviously smoking pot, and I'm in trouble for snapping photos. That makes a whole lot of NO sense!
"Somebody's been yelling out for this one all night," Jeff informed us. "Are you guys still having a good time?" (YEEEEEAH!) I think the lull is over-as in lullaby."
24) Cars Can't Escape--had to look that one up after the show

"How many of you are coming to all five nights?" Jeff addressed his fans. "Well tonight is almost over I'm afraid."

25) Hummingbird--JT held out the microphone during the chorus for the audience to sing along: 'Remember to remember me/Standing still in your past/Floating fast like a hummingbird' then jogged in place on the giant area rug covering the stage

Standing Ovation. Guy behind me kept yelling "Bullshit! Bull.Shit! Bullshit!"
Of course they returned for an encore. "We just had to conference," Jeff comforted those who actually thought they wouldn't come back. "We only have a little bit of time left. We have to make the most of it."
26) Hate It Here--honestly the lyrics in this song do nothing for me and I think it's Tweedy's weakest song lyrically speaking, but I can't totally dismiss it because the musical breakdown in the middle is great.

"I'd like to bring back out..." Tweedy introduced the horn players individually.

27) Walken--changed lyric to "Walkin home to be with you"

"This is for you Susie," he directed towards his wife.
28) I'm The Man Who Loves You

"Thank you guys."

29) Heavy Metal Drummer--whenever I've heard them play this live, Tweedy sings the rated-R version, "She lifted up her shirt at the battle of the bands/She twirled his sticks/She helped him to his van." Although I've always paid the most attention to drummers during live shows (which probably stems from wanting to play the drums since I was ten years old), you can't help but watch and be completely enamored with Glenn Kotche, who was drenched by that point, during this song.
30) Candy Floss
31) Outta Mind Outta Site

"That's it. See you tomorrow night. Thank you."
I left feeling very satisfied, no longer disappointed that I was flying solo. I walked back to my car, past a shriveled prostitute leaving a building. A man followed her out and said to me as I passed, "Hey baby-you doing alright tonight?" "Yes, I am, thank you," I replied. Then stopped to take a few pictures of an alley, all the while whistling a medley of Wilco songs, feeling my lips freeze in this Chicago winter night. And loving it. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Here's the whole album of the evening: Wilco Photos


Sharon said...

Really enjoyed this review... security guards are pinheads. Jesus, Etc. is one of my favorite songs ever and my absolute favoritist Wilco tune. Doesn't it just break your heart into a million pieces?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alyse. That puts me there. On to the next post ... GA

Jason said...

Thanks for posting the setlist. I think it's really cool that you've got that book of setlist going back years. Okay, maybe it's geeky but whatever it's cool. Kind of makes me wish I had thought to do that about a decade ago or so.

That's awesome that you got to go to the Wilco residency shows. It's going to take me awhile to get though all these lists....

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