The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Friday, February 25, 2005
TUL's Take: Wilco @ 9:30 Club

The Upstate Life was fortunate enough to have attended last night's Wilco concert at the 9:30 Club Thursday and has got to say, he was more than impressed with the show they put on last night. TUL and company were at the club right when the doors opened at 7:30 as we were able to secure ourselves an incredible spot right near the stage towards the left. I'll go into detail about how close we really were to the band in a little bit, but first, TUL has to discuss Wilco's opener, The Detholz!, first.

Primarily, it has to be challenging for nearly any unknown band to open up for a sold-out crowd anxiously waiting for Wilco to perform, and The Detholz! were no exception. Granted, I didn't find them the least bit interesting but at least they put forth an effort to keep the crowd entertained. Unfortunately, some asshole had to shout "You suck!" during their set which was not only uncalled for, but just plain rude. If you think you're trying to be funny, grow the fuck up dude. Unbeknownst to him, Tweedy and Co. were up in the balcony at the time this occurred. Come to think of it, most of my attention was focused looking up there rather than at the stage during most of the opening act.

Wilco came on at 10pm and we were on our way for what was sure to be a long, engaging set. The band kicked off things with "Handshake Drugs" much to the joy of TUL and the packed crowd. The Upstate Life was so close to the stage that I could not only hear Nels Cline's amplifier before it was being piped into the PA system (as he was essentially within arm's reach of us), but in fact actually hear the clicks his toggle switches were making every time he changed settings on his multitude of guitar effect boxes. The band followed up with a few more A Ghost is Born tracks before taking it back a decade or so by performing A.M.'s "Should've Been In Love." The majority of Wilco's act was primarily composed of Ghost and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot material, but the band managed to throw in a few wild cards from earlier albums Mermaid Avenue and Being There, the highlight of the latter being their rendition of "Misunderstood" with Tweedy shouting "Nothing!" at least twenty times which was pretty damn cool in TUL's opinion.

"Spiders (Kidsmoke)", TUL's favorite track off of Ghost, was the closer of their first set and was incredible to witness live. Everyone up on stage looked like they were having a total blast up there and it showed through their performance the entire evening. The audience was treated to two extensive encores, the second of which proving to be possibly the best part of the entire concert. After an exhilarating version of "I'm a Wheel", Tweedy declared that "Wilco is so 2004" and promptly burst into a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's hit "Don't Fear The Reaper." Not only was it a pleasure for us to witness Wilco performing a cover (let alone a Blue Oyster Cult cover), but there was even a roadie that joined the band onstage to play the coveted cowbell part! It would've made Will Ferrell proud. The group closed the show with the relatively obscure yet poignant Charles Wright song, "Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers)."

Even though this was only the first time The Upstate Life has seen Wilco live, I can easily say that their performance exceeded my expectations tremendously and would love to see them live again in such an intimate venue. Despite the bad apple or two present in the audience that detracted away from the magic up onstage by shouting meaningless shit (which Tweedy pointed out between songs), the audience overall (at least up front where I was situated) were appreciative and respective of the band. "Misunderstood" stood out especially due to the complete silence of the crowd during Tweedy's vocal solo. Hell, the band obviously did a good job if it persuaded TUL to shell out an additional $45 for a tour t-shirt and the exclusive DC poster. Setlist via WilcoBase:

1. Handshake Drugs
2. Company In My Back
3. Hummingbird
4. Should've Been In Love
5. Jesus, Etc.
6. Muzzle Of Bees
7. Theologians
8. I'm Always In Love
9. At Least That's What You Said
10. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
11. A Shot In The Arm
12. Wishful Thinking
13. Poor Places
14. Reservations
15. Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 1:
16. Misunderstood
17. California Stars
18. I'm The Man Who Loves You
19. The Late Greats
20. Outta Mind (Outta Sight)

Encore 2:
21. Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
22. Hesitating Beauty
23. Heavy Metal Drummer
24. I'm A Wheel
25. Kingpin
26. (Don't Fear) The Reaper
27. Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers)

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