With two of three shows out of the way, Wilco's gigs in the Bay Area had already surpassed the dates in Los Angeles. Would the Fox Theatre in Oakland complete this Northern California hat trick? Find out below!
Wilco, the Fox Theatre, January 31, 2012: Several years ago, I overheard a conversation between a guy and his concert companion as the former pointed out an older man. The object of his attention, he informed her: Frank Riley. All of a sudden, several dots connected in my mind -- that was the man responsible for booking many of my favorite acts! Now I can't stop spotting him at shows, both near and far, and I've nursed a daydream of slipping him a note reading, "Wilco. Three nights. Fox Theatre." Fortunately, he saved himself from my folly with this gig, as well as the pair that preceded it.
Ever since the Wiltern debacle, we'd been joking about surprise admission fees, but the Bay Area venues proved refreshingly equitable and respectful, with the Fox Theatre perhaps taking top honors. The fellow who welcomed us at an ungodly hour directed us to the right spot, without a hint of judgment, and the other workers who trickled in throughout the day were just as open and helpful. Even better, though the Fox's attached bar was slinging drinks before the doors opened, there was no horseplay or favoritism. We nitwits marched in first and on schedule. Props to Another Planet! And that's not even mentioning the proximity to Bakesale Betty, Xolo, Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, and the Sears bathrooms. If only they could've added a few degrees to the thermometer?
Once the crowds settled in, it became apparent to me that I'd make an awful booking agent. Wilco could probably sell out two nights at the Fox, especially for a weekend engagement, but they'd push their luck with three nights. Mr. Riley, the floor remains yours.
In all other respects, the Fox provided a wonderful bookend to the weekend-plus, with a setlist encompassing such beauties as "Spiders" and "One Wing," as well as titles that hadn't been aired up north, such as "Muzzle of Bees," "Theologians," and "Wilco (The Song)." As a fan of obvious plays for the audience, I ate it up when Jeff changed the lyrics to "Kingpin" to "Living in/Oakland," and I loved that the crowd knew when to roar along without prodding from the band. In fact, the whole dumb rock song encore was a great way to go out.
The general consensus among our circle placed this show as the best of the local gigs, owing to the grand surroundings, the audience adulation, and the band's spark. My bias may show, but I'm sticking with San Jose as my favorite of the trifecta. However, it's the contrast between the three, even the oddly somber San Francisco date, that keeps me coming back. In the end, Oakland gets a bonus point, if only for Jeff's comment that they miss the Bay Area when they're gone. The feeling is mutual, in case he can't tell.
» thank you for nothing at all
» my mother's sister's husband's brother
» one sunday morning