Sunday, July 12, 2009

LIVE: Wilco w/ Conor Oberst @ Wolf Trap, 7/8


Wilco’s been my number one favorite band for almost two years now, so I’ve done all the standard obsessive-fan stuff. I’ve seen their documentaries, I own hard copies of all their music, I stalk the website, I have multiple live recordings (which I compare and contrast endlessly). My iTunes play count tells me they’re my most-listened artist in my library. I’ve only seen them once before, but seeing as I’ve heard so many bootlegs, I sort of get what it to be expected from a live Wilco show: AWESOMENESS.

I know people like calling Wilco dad-rock (and based one the age and gender of the audience, I’d say that’s a pretty apt title…) but I think that’s misleading in that it makes you think they are boring when they are anything but. Every album they write is completely different from the one before yet they are all distinctly Wilco. Live, they are simply spectacular. Each member is ridiculously talented so when they jam they can take the music so much farther than other, younger bands can. Even though the line-up of Wilco has shifted considerably in their 15 year existence, the current roster is so uniform and tight you’d think they’ve been playing together since they were babies.

Anyway. Back to the start…

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band opened the show. Unlike Alyssa, who made her distaste for Conor Oberst very clear, I have been a fan for a while. I vividly remember my sister getting me a copy of “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” for my birthday in 7th grade, and I listened to it over and over and over again. I still like it. He may be a bit overrated in terms of the whole “Bob Dylan of Our Generation” thing, but that doesn’t make me dislike his music. I got the first Conor Oberst solo album last year and loved the more folksy tone and I love how much further he went with the country on the Mystic Valley Band album, “Outer South.” Live, I was quite impressed. The band opened with the one-two punch of “Danny Callahan” and “NYC- Gone, Gone.” Both songs were so much more lively on stage- especially “NYC,” which I didn’t love on the album but I now have a much greater appreciation for. The thing I most loved about the band’s set was that the sounded and looked like they were having a great time. I always imagined that Conor Oberst onstage would be depressing and bleak, but their set felt more like a sunny, awesome hoedown.

So now back to Wilco. As usual, I was blown away. After a tacky (but awesome) Price Is Right theme song intro, the band launched into the goofy (but awesome) “Wilco (the song).” From that point on, the show was all about having fun. The crowd was full of big fans who just wanted to hear their favorite band play some sweet songs, jam out a little bit, and then start all over. The long set contained cuts as old as “Misunderstood” and as new as “Deeper Down,” from their latest release, “Wilco (the album).” I was expecting the set to be mostly full of new tracks but the band did a good job of picking pretty evenly from their albums, save “A.M.,” which I believe was unrepresented.

Wilco has so many mopey, contemplative songs it’s hard to believe they can be so fun and free live, but I don’t think there was a single moment when someone could have looked over and seen me without a smile on my face. The fact that Wolf Trap is a great venue and the weather was perfect only added to the wonderful summer night.

Wilco set list:

  • Wilco (the song)
  • Shot in the Arm
  • At Least That’s What You Said
  • Bull Black Nova
  • You Are My Face
  • I’m Trying to Break Your Heart
  • One Wing
  • How To Fight Loneliness
  • Impossible Germany
  • Deeper Down
  • Jesus Etc.
  • Sonny Feeling
  • Handshake Drugs
  • Hate It Hear
  • Walken
  • I’m the Man Who Loves You
  • Hummingbird
  • ———-
  • You Never Know
  • Heavy Metal Drummer
  • Misunderstood
  • Spiders(kidsmoke)
  • I’m a Wheel

1 comment:

PIngrassia said...

I was at the show too -- great -- but too bad about the 11 p.m curfew.

Conor Oberst was great too. The Washington Post review was lame. Wilco is anything but FM-rock boring.