Sunday, July 12, 2009

Roger Wilco Over and In

The night was beautiful, the lawn was filled and the air above was a crisp summer sky blue. It was a huge sold out crowd (cars spilling out the parking lot into surrounding areas) for Wilco and Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band at Wolf Trap last Wednesday. It had to be one of the best and noisiest rock shows at Wolf Trap.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band opened as the sunlight silently fled over the green hillside, offering up a mix of part mock serious and part light. The pleasant-enough paste of many-themed, rootsy country-rock had one notable couple blocking the view while they danced away.

Wilco took to the stage and suddenly the wooden spaces filled in with a wave of cheering humanity that rose and never sat again, as the group opened with the title track ("Wilco," the Song) from their latest studio effort, Wilco (the Album). Cheers followed with favorite "Shot in the Arm" where many sang along repeatedly with the lines "Something in my veins, bloodier than blood!"

The show become one part intimate and upbeat Jeff Tweedy, and one part skilled and showoffy riffs of string-jointed, lead guitarist Nels Cline on "At Least That's What You Said" and new album jam "Bull Black Nova," which reverberated through the surrounding woods of darkness. Favorite 'You Are My Face' followed and led easily into "I'm Trying to Break Your Heart" and "One Wing."

Tweedy then took the crowd aside and promised “the most requested song in the history of our Web site”--36 votes, and delivered a quiet "How to Fight Loneliness." This led to the melodic "Impossible Germany" that suddenly filled easily with heroic Cline riffs before the newer "Deeper Down," and fan favorites "Jesus Etc,"' "Sonny Feeling," "Handshake Drugs," "Hate it Here" and "Walken." Wilco closed out the set with "I'm the Man Who Loves You" and "Hummingbird," and left briefly to a cheering throng of several thousand happy fans.

After a very quick break, the band began to throw out as much musical bouquets as possible to the enthusiastic crowd before the curfew came. The band played the new "You Never Know" "Heavy Metal Drummer" and "Misunderstood." A strum and drum "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" followed by "I'm a Wheel" ended the night on the right note.

Tweedy proudly announced “[t]he last time we played here was nine years ago...we were opening for Natalie Merchant.” Time has flown by and Wilco has grown up into a very skilled band with many dedicated fans who enjoy the large catalogue of interesting Wilco songs. Wilco and the fans were a pleasant force on a fantastic summer night.

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