When I was young, the way my family would judge how much fun I was having was by the amount of perspiration I was, well, perspiring. If that connection proved to be true, then I had one hell of a time seeing Wilco on Tuesday night at Warsaw in Brooklyn.
There’s so much about the concert I could focus on (from Tweedy coming out looking like a young Bob Dylan or Neil Young with shabby looking clothes, harmonica holder and beat up acoustic guitar to the fact that they performed for roughly two and a half hours because there was no noise curfew) that I’m just going to do a
Five Best…Performances by Wilco on June 26th at Warsaw
#5. “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”
Wilco playing this song is like The Ramones doing “Blitzkreig Bop” or Tommy Tutone performing “Jenny (867-5309),” so it wasn’t exactly a surprise that I’d hear it. But it’s one of the first Wilco songs I ever knew (the first was “Jesus, Etc.” which they performed and got a sing-song’y feel to it) so for sentimental reasons, it was great to hear it. If Wilco ever had a hit, I suppose this would be it. The Warsaw version was very similar to the one appearing on Yankee Foxtrot Hotel: Tweedy’s vocal leading the way, lots of feedback, a sneaky piano in the background and great drumming by Glenn Kotche.
#4. “On and On and On”
Nearly every song that they performed from Sky Blue Sky, their new album, got a reworking—with the exception of this song, the last on the album. I’m not a huge fan of Sky in the same way I am of Yankee or Being There, but the songs really came alive when hearing them in concert. “On and On and On” was the last song played before the encore, which made my concert counterpart, Nadia, quite happy because it’s her favorite song on the album. The song starts slowly and the lyrics are near schmaltz (“On and on and on we’ll stay together, yeah/On and on and on we’ll be together, yeah”) but Tweedy saves it with his passion and as it continues, the band kicks in and gives a very convincing feel. I think it’s become a favorite on Sky.
#3. “Outta Mind (Outtasite)”
Putting it on the list is bittersweet because it was the last song performed of the night. But to end the concert on something some upbeat and just plain rocking is a great choice. It’s also just a fun song it sing: “Well I know we don't talk much/But you're such a good talker/Ooh, whoa.” As the counterpart of “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” on Being There, they’re both pretty much the same song except “Outta Mind” is slightly slower and has the emphasis on the words, not the music. But live, this song kicked ass and took names—you know, if songs could take names, that is.
#2. “Hoodoo Voodoo”
A rarity of Wilco to perform, “Hoodoo Voodoo” is actually a Woody Guthrie tune that appears on their album with Billy Bragg, the fantastic Mermaid Avenue. While the Avenue version is one of the best on that album, it became that much better live. To quote a famous someone, they “played fucking loud.” The lyrics are nonsense (“Jinga jangler, tinga lingle, picture on a bricky wall/ Hot and scamper, foamy lather, huggle me close”) but you forget you’re saying words like “chooka” when Wilco kicks it out. But it was nothing compared to…
#1. “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”
Never in my the furthest reaches of my mind could I think about someone writing a song about spider going through tax forms. But that’s exactly what Tweedy does and, wouldn’t you know it, these archanids accountants were the highlight of the night. The song is long (the A Ghost is Born cut is slightly under 11 minutes while the live version must have run nearly 15) and I had this drunk girl push her away in front of me, but the only song I think it could rival hearing live was Television’s “Marquee Moon” from the week before. Even thinking about it now, they got more sound of their instruments than a band like Metallica could any day of the week.
Recap: It was a short run for Richard Thompson being my all-time favorite concert.
You Are My Face
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Pot Kettle Black
Side With The Seeds
A Shot in the Arm>
Sky Blue Sky
Why Would You Wanna Live
War on War
*happy birthday to Matrix (the guitar tech)*
I'm The Man Who Loves You
On and On and On
Ashes of American Flags
Hate It Here
The Late Greats
Outta Mind (Outtasite)
Next Up: Levon Helm Band today! Bob Dylan tomorrow!