Wilco @ The Hammerstein Ballroom:

Some thoughts on the Wilco show from this past Monday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York:

1. I’ve always had a difficult time getting excited about shows from bands I’ve seen several times, and can’t think of a single band I have seen more than once where I’ve enjoyed subsequent shows more than the first one. This was the 6th time I’ve seen Wilco.

2. The sound in Hammerstein is first class for a band as intricate and seasoned as Wilco. The ceiling is 4 or 5 stories high - just a huge, expansive open space for the music to float around in.

3. I predicted in my head the set opener - “You Are My Face”. But it and the next song, “Side With The Seeds”, never really took off like I hoped they would. This was pretty much my thought for all of the Sky Blue Sky songs except “Impossible Germany”, whose solos were just ripping.

4. The “A Shot In The Arm”> “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”> “Kamera”> “Handshake Drugs” run that followed was my favorite sequence of the night. “Kamera” especially was a really nice surprise.

5. All the energy they built with those songs was quickly sucked dry when the droning chords to “Shake It Off” limped in. My friend used the opportunity to relieve himself and came back laughing about people in the restroom chanting “turn it off…turn it off” to coincide with the song’s chorus.

6. Throughout the middle section of the set the band was good, but never really recaptured my attention like they had it at the outset. Fan favorite “Hummingbird” was fun and forgettable, “Via Chicago” was bipolar - delicate and beautiful to noisy and abrasive and back again several times, and “Jesus, Etc.” was especially poignant to the New York audience.

7. Again - the new songs didn’t really impress me live. “Hate It Here” and “Walken” were fine, just not that exciting, and compared to the older material, a little too ordinary.

8. Set closers “Poor Places”> “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” were epic and monstrous.

9. When they played “Sky Blue Sky” I initially thought I was hearing “Far Far Away” - which encapsulated what I thought of the whole night: a level of precision by the band that few others can compete with, but other than “Kamera” and “I’m Always In Love” in the encore, I was never surprised.

10. Wilco proved to be, yet again, capable of producing amazing sounds on stage that have the ability to move thousands of people - as proven with the crowd joyfully singing along to “California Stars” and “Heavy Metal Drummer”.

11. Read Ear Farm’s A to Z: live show pet hates. It must have been inspired by this show. For me the most annoying thing was the dude behind me who yelled “Tweedy, Tweedy, TWEEEEEEDY!” several times in between songs like he new him. I mean seriously shut the hell up you stupid asshead.

12. Nels is one thing, but Glen is worth the price of admission alone. He and Pat Sansone’s wind- milling during “I’m A Wheel”.

13. “Handshake Drugs” is my favorite song to hear live. Of any song, by any band.
14. Quote of the evening: "I want to be Nels Cline when I grow up", by Patrick.
MP3 :: I’m The Man Who Loves You
(from Kicking Television)
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Wilco tour dates HERE


Wayne said...

I agree that seeing a band for the first time is hard to beat on subsequent occasions. But Wilco I would see over and over and when I saw them recently I loved the new songs especially You Are My Face and Hate It Here. Anyway, nice review of a great band.

Fetal Pig said...

Thanks for your kind words on my blog- I appreciate it. I wanted to go to that Wilco show something awful. Great write up- the Tweedy yelling bit cracked me up.