I should be thankful to the Outside Lands folks for, at the least, saving this blog from solely devoting itself to you know who, you know what, and you know where. But with that temporary diversion out of the way, it's back to providing fodder for the restraining order. The court is now in session.
Wilco, Outside Lands Festival, August 24, 2008: As previously mentioned, I hate festivals, but a couple of names will draw me in, regardless of circumstances. Even by that measure, the Outside Lands planners unknowingly outdid themselves; not only were the festival grounds a hop, skip, and a jump away from my doorstep, Wilco was scheduled to play the stage closest to my flat. In fact, the Twin Peaks stage occupied the exact same spot where Jeff Tweedy had played for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival the year before. Genius!
I know all the rules about festival sets: They're shorter and less spontaneous, with few back-catalog bonuses. Also, the amateurs come out. Despite all this (not to mention the show I saw earlier in the week), I was superexcited for Wilco's set. I wonder if it had anything to do with Broken Social Scene's energizing performance or the fact that the photo corps and a large number of festival badgeholders crowded the area between the barrier and the stage to get a view of the band. Perhaps I was just anticipating the fruits of our labor after having set out early to secure our spots at the front of the stage. Then again, it could've been the knowledge that even after Wilco's set, the festivities were far from over, as I had a houseful of friends eager to get down to some serious Rock Band action.
Pick your provenance; all I know is that it felt totally natural to belt out the more fiery verses of "You Are My Face," though it made the insiders in front of us turn around and take notice (in a good way). In fact, I'd venture to say that the set veritably brimmed with joy, despite Wilco's reputation for serious and solemn compositions, such as the opener "Remember the Mountain Bed" or "Via Chicago" later in the gig.
Thus, we got a good amount of banter from Jeff Tweedy, including the use of the word "schlong"; Nels Cline flashing us the single safety pin that held together his fly; and Glenn Kotche luxuriating in the rock drummer pose that has marked the intro to "I'm the Man Who Loves You" for more than a year now. And away from the stage, a beautiful young girl (no older than 9 or 10) had us transfixed as she played air guitar to each selection, sometimes strumming, but often shredding, as appropriate.
On a less flippant note, Nels has made "Impossible Germany" a nightly showstopper with the improvisations and digressions he introduces to the song, but today's performance was one for the books. Yes, I know I've said that about a million times before, but I've never seen Nels in such a zone, with his eyes nearly rolling out of their sockets and his body all but knotted around his guitar as he cleaved out notes that no one could've guessed were possible.
Nels revealed his inspiration at the end of the tune, when, catching his breath, he marched up to Jeff's mic and emphatically dedicated the song to John Cipollina. Jeff, in turn, took the opportunity to defuse the drama by calling it a "pretty good solo" and pointing out Nels's pants predicament, as mentioned above.
Word is Wilco's headlining opportunities have drawn to a close for the year, though some high-profile opening slots await. If this was indeed our last chance for 2008, I couldn't have asked for a better send-off--but I hold out hope that another hurrah awaits. À bientôt.
» used to be one of the rotten ones
» feels lucky to have you here
» i try to stay busy