Wilco Live Review 2016

“It’s Me, Not You” | WILCO Live Review & Concert Photos | Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY | February 5, 2016

by • February 8, 2016

I must start this review with an admission – I have always loved WILCO.  Since their semi-collaboration with Billy Bragg, I have been hooked. We (WILCO and I) lived through the issues with our record label and then enjoyed the artistic success of, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

WILCO Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

WILCO at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, NY was a thoroughly enjoyable show.  Kings Theatre is a spectacular example of how a venue can be restored to honor both the history of a structure while also making a space that is modern, open, and comfortable.  The sound was easy on the ears with the usual boomish reverb that most larger venues have; just the right volume for immersing oneself in the music without needing earplugs or aspirin.

The opening act was to be Bill Frisell, but a Canadian snowstorm kept him an expatriate.  Jim Campilongo filled in and was spot-on perfect.  His sharp telecaster filled the room with a wonderful twang as he showed why he would be the first guitarist to be asked to fill in with the absence of Frisell.  If Wes Montgomery, John Scofield, and Jeff Beck’s little brother (if he had one) all had a son, it would be Jim Campilongo.

Jim Campilongo opening for WILCO. Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

Jim Campilongo opening for WILCO. Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

WILCO took the stage at 9:00 pm and offered up why they are a world-class touring act.  The Brooklyn intelligentsia came out in full force, and in between texting their collective babysitter corps and shooting iPhone video, they were enthralled with the spectacle.

WILCO moved through songs from their latest album, Star Wars, and as the show progressed offered favorites from their deep catalogue of tunes.  When the band played their “hits,” the crowd responded with increased excitement.  Later, when WILCO played an acoustic(ish) encore, the audience responded to the closeness and vulnerability the band offered.  The highlight of the performance, as evidenced by the number of YouTube posts, was certainly their homage to David Bowie with a rendition of “Space Oddity.”

I have nothing but praise for this band and their performance.  But the show got me thinking.  I was there with my son, who turns 18 in two days. I paused and sat back – as standing for such a long time hurt my knees.  I looked around the audience and I viewed an overwhelmingly white middle-aged venue of lovers of “dad-rock,” or even call it “pop-rock.”  We all loved this band, and perhaps enjoyed feeling connected to such a group that overcame the heavy hand of the corporate “man,” even though we ourselves may have become that very man.  We fell in love with WILCO years ago, perhaps in graduate school and most likely just before the release of YHF.  Back then, or as we say, “back in the day,” we all felt a vibrant urgency in the music.  It was vital.  It was encoded with the undergraduate background of our literature courses and our hopes that we could all make a living without becoming the very institution we all promised ourselves we would not become.  WILCO was the blank book in which we would write while hoping to craft the great American novel.  I bet Dean Moriarty would have loved WILCO.

WILCO Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

WILCO – Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt perform live.
Kings Theatre, February 5, 2016

But some of that urgency has faded as we took jobs, had families and moved away from the city.  We traded the uncertain edge of the opening notes of, “I am trying to break your heart,” for the comfort of being able to sing along with the band during the finale.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

On, Star Wars, WILCO brings us back to some of that uneasy feeling we experienced in 2001. Yet, our unease is wrapped in the knowledge that we can afford the babysitter back at the house.  We have traded uncertainty for Xanax and have chosen not to go out during the middle of the week.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

As there was nothing wrong with WILCO’s performance.  We stuck our heads, if only for a moment, out of a speeding car.  But now, 15 years later, we can let ourselves slip back into the front seat and push the window button to, “up.”

Wilco Live Review 2016 and Live Concert Photos by Douglass Dresher of Showpicts.com.

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