I've been waiting two years to use that subject line, but that's how long it took for Wilco to return to one of my former stomping grounds and play the specific song with the necessary lyric--no groveling required.
Wilco, Greek Theatre (Berkeley), August 24, 2007: As I volunteered to anyone who'd listen, I would've walked across the stage of the Greek Theatre if I had attended my graduation ceremony. Instead, I skipped it and, without fanfare, picked up my flimsy diploma over the summer at the registrar's office.
This lack of school spirit, coupled with my venue snobbery, tends to keep me away from the Greek Theatre. Not even bands such as Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire, and the Flaming Lips can convince me to make the trip over the bridge. However, Wilco does not stand as just any band in my book.
For some reason, I had a very clear picture in my mind of Wilco opening with "Sunken Treasure" last time they were at the Greek in Berkeley, so I was a little surprised that they'd reprise the same number this time out. I was wrong--according to WilcoBase, they started off with "Misunderstood" that night, so I'm obviously mixing up my cathartic Being There tracks.
I'm pretty fixated on Nels under the best of circumstances, but I noticed more than a small note of drama on his side of the stage tonight. There was, for example, a tiny misstep in "Pot Kettle Black" that saw him grimacing and backing off slowly, in hopes that no one had noticed, though he recovered beautifully. Later, he nearly toppled over one of his monitors, the threat of a good eight-foot drop over the edge looming, and he seemed to have broken a nail and could be seen tending to it on several instances. It didn't affect his playing, but there was some concern from his bandmates. By the end of the night, though, I assume he had administered to it because he bestowed upon "California Stars" his distinctive treatment, the kind that neither Seattle's nor Portland's guest players could manage.
Speaking of Portland, Jeff tried to instigate a feud between the two cities' pot smokers, but it was an apples-and-oranges tossup. Berkeley's bigger space and brisk air cut through the haze a lot more effectively than Portland's pleasant climate. Even down in the trenches, our senses weren't assaulted nearly as forcibly as they had been in Portland.
"Misunderstood," besides furnishing the title of this blog entry, started off the first encore and hammered through to the customary barrage of "nothing"s. I gave, as usual, not a thought to the count until Jeff looked over and asked if that was 40. Trish had the total: 42. He checked in with the rest of the audience, and they corroborated the tally, but he didn't publicly come clean with his reasons, citing only something "personal."
One point over which there was no doubt was the Bay Area's sustained love for Wilco, which Jeff acknowledged with a heartfelt thanks for all our support over the years. Being a longtime Wilco fan in the United States has had its ups and downs these days, especially if you've seen them in clubs and other intimate spaces. The Greek Theatre will never be my favorite spot (hell, it wasn't even when I lived there), but I'll take it over another half-dozen similar venues in San Francisco and beyond.
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