Sunday, October 21, 2007

kids at concerts

Wilco, Charlottesville Pavilion, tonight.

I took a gamble on this one. Wilco fans are a pretty reserved group, and the Pavilion is an outdoor venue. It seemed like a reasonable chance that Banana would have a good time. But at $40 for her ticket, nothing was guaranteed. Still, it was their last show in the States this year, and it would be a bit of cleansing since the last show I saw was with the ex before the meltdown.

Blah, blah, blah...

Long story short: we ran into a few other kids; they all ran around and had a great time; Banana curled up in her Hello Kitty fleece blanket and passed out just before the encores.

So the show...

They played two hours and 40 minutes, with three encores. The set list (which I will link to when it goes up on WilcoBase) was heavy on the last three albums, but they branched out to a couple tracks from Summerteeth, several from Being There, and one each from Mermaid Avenue, and A.M.. Throughout the set, they kept up a little schtick around "Heavy Metal Drummer" -- they'd play the opening beats or Kotche would come out in a blast of white light. But they saved the song for the end of the first three-song encore. The second encore ran five songs, covering what amounted to the history of the band. The final encore was "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," and it was phenomenal.

The band was as tight as I've ever heard them. Nels Cline was pulling riffs apart and reconstructing them, and during "Hoodoo Voodoo" he traded dueling riffs with Pat. Then during "Kidsmoke," Pat and Mikael traded keyboard riffs. And the chemistry was there the whole show. Stirrat and Tweedy were playful. Tweedy brought an 8-year old girl on the stage for Kotche was fierce. I can think of no other word to describe how much energy he puts into his playing, and his ability to mix and layer multiple sets of complex rhythms is constantly amazing.

Overall, what constantly impresses me about Wilco is their ability as a group to rethink and retool their songs. It doesn't matter that some of the production work on the albums is unavailable on stage. Instead, they'd rather take the core of the song and explore from there. The performances rarely feel repetitive, but at the same time, they don't abstract the songs so much that you never know what to expect.

The venue deserves kudos, too. The central location off the Downtown Mall makes it feel far more linked in to the city than most such places. Furthermore, the sound was excellent, inside and outside. This was our first trip there for a show, but it's definitely on the radar now. Next time, we'll have to get there early enough to roam.