Ever since I started dating Melisa, I’ve been opening my head up to trying a lot of new things. I’m not normally considered very adventurous, as I understand it — and fair enough. I like what I like, and no need to try new things if what I like is available. New foods, new hobbies– it’s really a new way of looking at life.
And so when we went to see Wilco, a band with which I’m not terribly familiar, I broke my usual habit of familiarizing myself with the music pre-show. Normally, I’ll spend some time on YouTube or with a borrowed CD, at least preparing myself for what I’ll be hearing if not trying to find a few songs that I can anticipate. Not this time — I went in with the sparse bit of knowledge I’ve picked up from Melisa’s iPod and covering two of their songs with the Exhibit(s).
From what I could tell from Wilco fans, it was an awesome show. The performance was impressive — each member is very talented, and they all had an amazing amount of energy, especially given that they played a 3 hours set with no break (excluding the now-mandatory pre-encore five minutes). One hour can be a long time on stage — three is amazing. There was a nice mixture of uptempo tunes with slower, mellower numbers, which kept the pacing nice and moved the show along.
The mix was terrible, I’ve heard from some folks who were on the floor level (we were on the front part of the balcony, just right of center — excellent seats except for the two teeny-boppers in front of us who insisted on dancing for 2/3 of the show, thus forcing us to stand or sit with an obstructed view). I thought, mix-wise, it was fine — everything was clear and distinct. Except, of course, when it was a wall of sound…
Maybe I’m old; maybe I wasn’t prepared, as Melisa tells me that Wilco often break into sections of clamorous noise in the middle of songs, before returning to a more structured arrangement. That’s fine — next time, I know to bring earphones. But honest-to-god: I’ve been to over a thousand shows in my life, played hundreds, and I have only one other time ever been in a situation that was physically painful to my ears. Melisa didn’t seem to notice, so perhaps it was just me and my ears, but there were moments when the physical volume and the cacophony of timbres and pitches was overwhelming. Perhaps the sound guy is to blame; perhaps it was a by-product of being in a theater, as opposed to outdoors or a deeper, less-confined room; maybe I’m just a pussy. Fine.
I would definitely like to have another chance to see Wilco, but with more preparation on my part. I need to have more connection to the music I’m seeing, at least when its outside of my usual fare. I definitely need some way to bring the decibel count down about 15-20db…
UPDATE: via Scents and Subtle Sounds, the setlist from the evening:
Set: Wilco (The Song), I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Bull Black Nova, You Are My Face, One Wing, A Shot in the Arm, Side with the Seeds, Deeper Down, Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again), Wishful Thinking, Impossible Germany, California Stars, Poor Place, Spiders (Kidsmoke)*, Far, Far Away*, You and I*, Laminated Cat*, War on War, Hesitating Beauty*&, Casino Queen*, Passenger Side*, Airline to Heaven, Via Chicago, Handshake Drugs, You Never Know, Heavy Metal Drummer, Can’t Stand It, Jesus, Etc., Theologians, Hate It Here, Walken, I’m the Man Who Loves You, I’m a Wheel
Encore: Thank You, Friends^
* Acoustic, *& John on stand up bass, ^ Big Star Cover