Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wilco Rocks Fourth Night Straight

photo by Sharyn Goldyn
Chicago has been good to Wilco and Wilco has been good to Chicago. Maybe I will always feel like nothing can surpass seeing them last September at Millennium Park where the sound was perfect, the weather was perfect, and they played every song I wanted to hear, but if ever there was a chance to try, it would be five nights at the Riviera promising to play every song they have ever written.

Last night, the fourth night, was also being broadcast on WXRT so I assumed they would be playing all the crowd pleasers. This wasn’t necessarily the case, but a few songs definitely stood out and reminded me why it was worth standing for almost three hours, sharing sweat with a thousand other people in an extremely over packed theater.

Wilco stepped on stage with little greeting and opened with “Outta Mind (Outta Sight)” and two and a half hours later, cleverly closed with "Outtasite (Outta Mind)." Both songs were fantastically charged and peppy, a good way to start and finish business. The second song they played was the light-hearted old favorite “Must Be High.” The crowd also was the first ever to hear the debut of Sky Blue Sky’s "Leave Me (Like You Found Me). “It’s always fun to audition songs for a large audience and the radio,” Tweedy joked. He then told his kids that if they were listening, it was time to go to bed. Cute.

“Shake It Off” was incredible, starting off slow and then pausing to expand into a jumpy, nerve ridden jam. The crowd went wild when Tweedy sang, “So many hearts beating in one place.”

“Summer Teeth,” “In a Future Age” and “The Thanks I Get” were nice surprises, although the first set was a little sluggish, it seemed. Wilco were up to their usual antics with “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”—one of the songs played that officially reminded me why this band deserves five nights in front of sold out audiences. It was anxious and blazingly epic. Toward the end the band urged the audience to clap quickly in unison while they faded out only to jump back and rock the fuck out.

“Was I In Your Dreams” invited the Pros (a four-piece horn section) onstage for the crooning jukebox ballad. Two of the best songs of the night were ”Misunderstood”—a song that one wouldn’t consider catchy but nonetheless was a total sing along for the crowd—ending with blinding, blinking lights and Tweedy screaming over and over “I’d like to thank you all for nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing” and so on. If you’ve seen Wilco before you know this can go on for hours, but it’s fantastic every time.

“King Pin” was also shockingly awesome—a song I had never thought twice of—the band transformed this into an extended wild country anthem, with Tweedy screaming, “How can I… how can I?” And, of course, they sealed the night off with “Outtasite, (Outta Mind).”

Encore? Since the band is too lazy for the “tired ritual of encores” they played a short and sweet “The Late Greats.” Not even three minutes long but decidedly pleasant. - Sharyn Goldyn