Wednesday, June 27, 2007

town after town, toll after toll

Sometimes, a seated show is just what you need when, say, your interest in a band is less than overwhelming or after you've slogged through a long, hard day at work, on the road, on the phone--whatever. Aside from one major exception, they more often than not do little for me, but Red Bank, New Jersey (the location of this Wilco gig) sort of served as a layover on our drive to points north, and more important, it gave us an excuse to barge in on some great friends in the area.

Wilco, Count Basie Theater, June 22, 2007: There are times when you have to take a step (or however many are required to get to Row X) back, sit in your assigned seat, block out the making-out couple glued to each other in front of you, peer past the 23 other rows separating you from the stage, and deal with it.

I will say, though, that things could've been a lot worse. For one, the Count Basie Theater is relatively small, and we were not, by any measure, in the nosebleeds. Also, the crowd in my area turned out to be fairly enthusiastic. Certainly, some were more knowledgeable than others, but they took to their feet from the outset and stayed there for the duration. I heard a lot of singing around me, and they even cheered some of the older songs (though nothing preceding Summerteeth made it to the setlist). Standing toward the back, I even noticed details in the band's playing that tend to be lost when you're in the front. I always love Glenn's drumming, but I actually heard nuances to his technique that had previously evaded me.

The most notable occurrence during this gig was probably about halfway through, when Jeff's mic popped, and they couldn't fix it too easily. After attempting a few moves, the band walked offstage, only to have Jeff return by himself. He went without the PA to perform "Acuff-Rose," which has become a mainstay on his recent solo tours. As you might expect from a crowd out to see a rock band, the hooters and hecklers couldn't let this rather lovely moment alone, but at least over at my outpost, they managed to show some respect. The band, in turned, plowed through the rest of their set until curfew to make up for the lost time.

Wilco at the Count Basie Theater, June 22, 2007

Alas, I missed my usual station, especially as I watched the goofy interaction between Nels and Jeff on "Walken." Also, "Impossible Germany"--though its transcendence can't be contained in a room of any size--made me long to rush to the front, just so that I wouldn't miss a single note of the divine guitar interplay. Overall, the show was fun, even if I couldn't partake of the visceral thrill that marks my customary concert experience.

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