Wilco and Andrew Bird with the Congregation @ Fifth Third Ballpark 7.8.2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve written up a show. I’ve even been reluctant to update my list of shows here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been seeing some great acts. The latest was Wilco with Andrew Bird in Geneva, IL. I am a fan of both and have seen each multiple times, but the idea of seeing them together was enough to convince me to drive four hours to my old stomping grounds to see them perform.

All three acts on the bill were from Chicago so seeing them in the suburbs had a nice “hometown” feel. The crowd around me – and I will admit we were not down on the field but up in the seats with the older people – they were decidedly there for Wilco. But I was pleased that they were familiar with Andrew Bird and were open to listening to the soul sounds of The Congregation.

What I have decided is that Andrew Bird is just not suited for outdoor venues of that magnitude. I first saw him at Lollapalooza and listened to him while seeking shade from a dumpster so I thought perhaps that affected my opinion of him. But what I’ve come to realize is that his sound is subtle and much better heard in an intimate venue. I enjoyed his set, but it was not a favorite of mine.

However, on the other hand, I think this might have been the best Wilco show I have ever seen. The show was being simulcast on WXRT so the show was tight with little banter and less downtime. My friend Thom noted that the usually recording-friendly band specifically requested nothing like that for this show. We hope that means they will put it out as a DVD or something. If that happens, I would highly recommend purchasing it because it was THAT good. Take a look at the setlist. How can you go wrong with that?

If you’ve listened to me talk about live shows at all, you’ll know I love two things at a concert – handclaps and sing-a-longs. I got the latter during many of Wilco’s songs (which you can hear in the youtube video I posted). I also added a new one to my list. I really have grown to love the headliner bringing the opening act out to play together. Thom and I sat before the show trying to determine which song would best be suited for Bird’s violin and possibly whistling. And in the end, we were both wrong but they chose wisely. “Jesus, etc.” was a great place to have him chime in.

Tweedy and company came out for a second encore and paid tribute to Woody Guthrie in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of his birth. I could not think of a better way to end the night.

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About indie librarian

a recently MLS librarian's observations
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