Wilco is 20, We’re 21
Our marriage is 21, that is. We celebrated it quietly by almost forgetting and remodeling our tiny kitchen. It will now be a nicer looking, tiny kitchen. But a couple of weeks later, we did sneak away for a day to see Wilco begin their 20th anniversary tour in Houston.
I never get my hopes up about stuff, just in case it falls through. I make preliminary plans, then forget about it until the day comes. However, I did prepare for this by listening to most of their albums every chance I got the last couple of months. I let each one settle on me slowly, and on whoever rode in the car with me. My son is officially sick of Wilco.
I needed to blow off all responsibility for a day and be like a carefree twenty-something again. I went to lots of concerts when I was young, my first being The Jets. Remember them? I didn’t think so. Look, in the sixth grade, a concert is a concert. If you can watch more than 10 seconds of that link, bless your heart. Maybe I will redeem my coolness by saying I also saw The Cure, 10,000 Maniacs (twice), and The Wallflowers in the 90’s. Or maybe I just dated myself.
Speaking of dating myself, In the nineties, I was also at the Duran Duran Dilate Your Mind tour. Pre-teen me, with a Tiger Beat crush on Simon LeBon would have died. My husband and I went to several concerts when we were dating: more Natalie Merchant, with a little Sarah Mclachlan and Tina Turner thrown in. And just to make sure he didn’t feel completely emasculated, Chris Isaac and Peter Gabriel (the best). We saw Pink Floyd at Rice Stadium until it was rained out and we waded a mile to our car. Cool, right? I’m not even mentioning the cheesy Depeche Mode / Pink Floyd laser light show that was one of our first real dates.
Then we got married, started our family, and just didn’t do that kind of thing. We stayed home, played with babies, and camped on a shoestring budget. It was a big deal for us to go out on my husband’s birthday to see the first Lord of the Rings movie in the theatre, by ourselves. Too bad a couple of kids cut in front of us in line and took the last two tickets in the house.
We have been to a few youth group concert events. Those concerts were really great and very meaningful, David Crowder and Phil Whickam being my favorites, but those were planned by someone else. We just fell into going by taking part in church events.
(more on flickr and instagram)
Last Thursday was our plan. The Bayou Music Center is small. It makes me think of a historic theatre in our county seat. It was like being a kid again, wedged into a tiny theatre seat, between two big guys.
So, Wilco opened with Via Chicago. My husband isn’t as big a fan as me, and he was thinking, “They’re opening with this?” Where the album version has that slowed down, warped sound throughout the song, they threw in crazy, high speed, metal drums for the concert. It was pretty funny to watch the rest of the band continue singing and playing at the usual tempo with that going on in the background. I think that engaged my husband. “Warped sound”? Obviously, I’m not a music critic; but if you’ve heard them, you know about all the discordant stuff they throw into their songs.
Here’s the Setlist, if you’re interested. Highlights, for me were the opening and every song from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot because it is special to me, especially Kamera. I loved hearing them play Secret of the Sea because it’s a little obscure and the Mermaid Avenue projects were where I first heard about the band. They carry a feeling of innocence that makes me think of my young family, whereas most of Wilco’s stuff is… let’s face it, Jeff Tweedy has got joyful melancholy down, folks.
(my blurry phone clip of Kamera. This was a moment for me.)
Born Alone is another favorite they performed and the whole second encore was awesome. For that, they moved to the front of the stage for acoustic versions of The Thanks I Get, Hoodoo Voodoo, and Shot in the Arm.
They sound every bit as good live as on the album, but there are things that I heard Thursday night that I hadn’t noticed before- little things like a bass line that’s not as prominent to my ears via cd, or a lilt in Jeff Tweedy’s voice that I never noticed until I watched him sing it. They weren’t big things, just little things to make each song feel like a new experience. Why have I waited so long to do this?
Want a taste of this concert? This youtube channel has a few clips where you can hear the audience singing along and clapping, off-beat, along with a few of their tunes. That’s always nice.