Tuesday, July 12, 2016

to be out of place

This one is especially late, but (1) I was still on vacation, and (2) I had to get over my jetlag. But here's my report on Wilco in Zagreb, Croatia, for the the Inmusic Festival.

Wilco, Inmusic Festival, June 22, 2016: Yes, I've traveled across international borders to see Wilco before, but I promise this show was a total coincidence. We had already planned a vacation in Croatia -- then Wilco announced a date at Zagreb's Inmusic Festival after the calendar was set and vacation time was requested. Truth be told, we rescheduled our itinerary a smidge to return to Zagreb after a diversion, but overall, it was no bother.

Not long ago, one of the appeals of seeing Wilco in Europe was the relative size of the venues. Simply put, Wilco is not as big in Europe, and you could still enjoy club gigs. I hear those days are gone, but when it comes to festivals, the smaller scale remains. At Inmusic, Wilco played a dream slot for us: on the last day of the festival, second to last on the bill, with a 6:30 start time. (Never mind that they were left off all the posters and signage we saw around town!) We took our time getting to the gig, due in part to our disregard for a sign helpfully directing us to the entrace, endured only one other band, and best of all, planned to get dinner after the show. The crowd was sparse when we arrived, and we had no problem taking our usual spots.

Wilco, Inmusic Festival, June 22, 2016

I last saw Wilco last summer, shortly after the release of Star Wars, so I got the album-heavy shows. Even the band's Outside Lands appearance stuck to the script at the time. Coming into Inmusic, I wasn't sure what to expect of the setlist.

As it turned out, a decent amount of Star Wars remains, which you might expect, as it's the most recent album, but overall, the band stuck to a more typical festival set. Keep in mind, this was a 75-minute slot, not a headlining show, so it was going to be shorter anyway. We generally got the rockier Star Wars tracks, accompanied by many band favorites and a couple of deep album tracks ("Art of Almost," "Late Greats"). In fact, "Art of Almost" was sort of the surprise, as Nels was caught in technical issues for a good chunk of the song. The band played on patiently, waiting for the fix. They eventually solved the problem, and Nels came roaring back in. Jeff later called it the "extended version" of the tune.

Highlights of the set for me include the divine "Cold Slope"/"King of You" double shot and the eternally artful "Impossible Germany." A comedic moment took place during "Via Chicago," which moved the young security guards at the front of the stage to crane their necks to investigate the din onstage, notably during Glenn's big drum breaks. I guess they didn't get the memo that these American gentlemen might be more than unassuming folkies.

By the way, the crowd was pretty good at the front, and they filled out the field by the time Wilco took the stage. For the most part, they really liked clapping to the beat, with mixed results. I don't know how many native English speakers were in attendance, but at least a few other Americans were present, and we heard plenty of voices singing along. Let's put it this way: They outdrew the previous band by a wide margin.

We didn't stick around for the rest of the bands, though it might've been nice to see PJ Harvey if her onstage time wasn't in the middle of the night. Still, the ticket was a bargain compared to U.S. prices and a fantastic start to our Croatia sojourn. We also had a chance run-in with one of the staffers in Zagreb's city center, so yes, it was a good day.

Wilco in Europe? I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

See also:
» a party there that we ought to go to
» every song's a comeback
» the gray fountain spray of the great milky way
» i'd be lying if i said it wasn't easy
» everyone wastes my time

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