Tag Archives: Wilco

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Wilco Are Reliably Terrific in Closing Out a Four-Night Run

March 23rd, 2017

Wilco – Beacon Theatre – March 22, 2017

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There is plenty of debate these days about what makes America great, but for some things there is no argument, no matter what you believe. There is greatness in American monuments and symbols—Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, rock and roll. Over the past couple of decades, few bands have been able to claim the mantle of the “great American rock band” quite like Wilco have. Last night at the Beacon Theatre, Jeff Tweedy and Co., closing out the last of four sold-out shows, proved that they certainly belong on the Mount Rushmore of present-day American rock bands.

Trees painted on either side and rolling hills behind, the stage evoked a rustic setting, a bucolic countryside scene, even though the band and audience were smack dab on Broadway in one of the busiest cities in the world. Wilco’s sound captured this all-American city mouse/country mouse vibe from the start, alt-country meets explosive rock and roll. Early on, Tweedy’s voice was front and center, the crowd hanging on each syllable, while he sang material from the band’s newest, Schmilcolike “Normal American Kids,” while guitarist Nels Cline danced Garcia-esque licks into the packed venue. A few songs in, however, the band picked up steam, drummer Glenn Kotche and bassist John Stirratt chugging alongside Cline and Tweedy’s guitars, a pair of tractor trailers plowing down the open road of the U.S. Interstate on rockers like “Side with Seeds” and “At Least That’s What You Said.”

A Wilco show is as reliable as another American landmark, Old Faithful. You know the eruption is coming, but that doesn’t it make it any less impressive when it arrives, like clockwork. Wednesday night, as is often the case, the pressure-relief came during “Impossible Germany,” Cline gushing geothermal guitar licks, while the audience looked on in awe. Still, perhaps the set’s all-encompassing highlight may have been “Via Chicago,” Wilco channeling the great American poet, Whitman, very large and containing multitudes, overlapping Tweedy’s own soft-sung poetry with a barbaric yawp of guitars and drums. Before the set ended, they made sure to serve up their version of the all-American diet of meat and potatoes in the form of crowd favorites “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” The 30-plus-minute double encore was an almost let’s-play-two run-through of the band’s history, songs old and new, including, naturally, “Red-Eyed and Blue.” Preceding the end of the set, Tweedy, who was relatively quiet with the banter all night, said, “We’ve got no time for fucking pessimism.” And it doesn’t get much more American than that. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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Assembly of Dust Play the Early Show Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

September 7th, 2016

Frontman Reid Genauer, previously of Strangefolk, formed Assembly of Dust in 2002 while still studying for his MBA at Cornell University. The self-titled debut album (stream it below) was essentially a solo effort but Genauer (vocals and guitar) wanted a bigger sound to play the music live. Now rounded out by Adam Terrell (guitar and vocals), Dave Diamond (drums), John Leccesse (bass and vocals) and Jason Crosby (keys, fiddle and vocals), the R&B- and blues-based rockers have earned comparisons to My Morning Jacket, Little Feat and Wilco. And thanks to their fiery live performances, Assembly of Dust (above, doing “Speculator” live for MoBoogie) have garnered a sizable traveling fan base and a reputation as a good-times band. Their most recent release, the live full-length Tales from the Oregon Trail (stream it below), came out earlier this year. Relix called it “crafty, creative and brimming with celebration, revelry, blithe country comforts and astute invention.” Assembly of Dust kick off a short tour at home when they play Mercury Lounge tomorrow. Upstate funky jammers Formula 5 open the show.

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Steve Gunn Kicks Off Tour at Home at Music Hall of Williamsburg

June 10th, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016

Steve Gunn and the Outliners – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 9, 2016
Steve Gunn is a guitarists’ guitarist, much in the same way that there are comedians’ comedians (Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK). He’s earned the respect and admiration of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, Wilco and the guy who I buy strings from in the guitar shop off Carmine St. Gunn falls somewhere on the guitar family tree under John Fahey, the legendary master of Americana ragas, and he certainly shares his ability to hold down meditative rhythms while stringing a different melody through them. That he’s able to sing on top of it all (something Fahey rarely did) makes the skill all the more impressive. Back from a recent European tour, Gunn returned home to Brooklyn—at Music Hall of Williamsburg—last night, kicking off his American tour in promotion of the excellent Eyes on the Lineshis Matador debut.

Gunn began as a guitarist for Kurt Vile’s Violators, and Vile got his own start as a guitarist for the War on Drugs. If this tradition holds up, stay tuned for an amazing debut from Jim Elkington, who embellishes Gunn’s tunes with artful twangs of his slide guitar. Elkington and Gunn proved to be impressively skilled, trading guitar solos in an epic call-and-response session off the jams of “Park Bench Smile.” Both made use of racks of guitars and a healthy number of pedals to bleed just the right sound out of their noodling. “Ancient Jules” showcased some of the finest riffs to have come out thus far in 2016, searing through a steady on-the-road flowing rhythm. Mid-set, the crowd started yelling, “More Steve!” “More Steve?” replied Gunn. “What does that even mean? Oh, turn me up?”

The set wound down with just Elkington and Gunn on acoustic guitars for a stripped-down version of the beautiful “Wildwood.” The full band returned for the encore with “Way Out Weather” with Gunn’s guitar drifting in and out of the song like a gentle breeze.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com

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Wilco Take Kings Theatre to Space on Friday Night

February 8th, 2016

Wilco – Kings Theatre – February 5, 2016

Wilco - Kings Theatre - February 5, 2016

Wilco should be feeling a whole lot of love from the Empire State this week because the band had one hell of a New York run last week, including four sold-out shows (two in Port Chester’s Capital Theatre, two in Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre) and a performance of  “Random Name Generator” on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertJeff Tweedy even lulled Colbert to sleep with a lullaby. Friday’s show at Kings Theatre was one part Star Wars, one part a selection of fan favorites and one part an acoustic encore, capped off with a moving sing-along tribute to David Bowie to close the inspired performance.

Star Wars, Wilco’s surprise 2015 release, has been crafted into live perfection at this point. The band’s performed the album in its entirety every night of the tour and added some welcomed embellishments to it. The angular riffs of album-opener “More” kicked off the night. “You Satellite” hit the high-water mark of intensity during this part of the set, swirling around an atmosphere of beautifully noisy guitar wails, complete with the band in front of a shape-shifting starry backdrop. It’s hard to understate just how central guitarist Nels Cline has become to Wilco’s live shows. Two moments in particular stuck out as unleash-the-Nels parts of the night, with searing guitar solos on “Impossible Germany” and “Art of Almost” lighting each song on fire.

Although Wilco found their groove long ago and now wholly own it, that doesn’t allow room for complacency. Instead, it seems to have just given them even more permission to rework their songs, revealing new ways to showcase their song craft. If there ever were a mission statement for the band, this has always been it, and as good of a reason as any to see them live again and again. This was especially on display during their acoustic encore, begun with the softly played “Misunderstood,” a song just as striking in its bare-bones form as it is in its noisier studio incarnation. There was something especially fun about the audience quietly and gently singing along to the usually loud and abrasive refrains of “I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all!” “I’m Always in Love” and the always-haunting “A Shot in the Arm” followed, before the show concluded with a beautiful moment, a cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” made even more beautiful by the grandeur of Kings Theatre and every living soul in the venue singing along. What better way to end a night of the Star Wars tour than with a hat tip to an artist who spent his life pulling down songs from the cosmos. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Wilco on 2/6

February 2nd, 2016

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Touring behind their ninth studio album, the acclaimed Star Wars, Wilco return to town this week to play four shows. And while each of them is already sold out, the good news is that The House List is giving away two tickets to see Wilco on Friday night at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Don’t already have tickets of your own but still want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Wilco, 2/6) and a brief message explaining who you think will win the Super Bowl. Eddie Bruiser, who might be betting on the game, will notify the winner by Friday.

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Guitar Virtuoso Richard Thompson Performs as a Trio at Town Hall

June 25th, 2015

One of the biggest names in British folk rock, Richard Thompson has been making music for nearly 50 years, earning plaudits all along the way, including Rolling Stone naming him one of the top 100 guitarists of all time: “Richard Thompson has been one of rock’s most dazzling stylists since his days with Fairport Convention, a British folk-rock band that veered into English traditional music. Shooting out life-affirming riffs amid lyrics that made you want to jump off a bridge, he combined a rock flatpick attack with speedy fingerpicking.” His just-released 16th studio album, Still (stream it below), was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who also appears on the LP. And while it was technically a solo album, Thompson (above, doing “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”) is supporting it by performing as a trio, with Michael Jerome on drums and Taras Prodaniuk on bass. Catch the Richard Thompson Trio tomorrow night at Town Hall. As an added bonus, Thompson will do a solo acoustic set to open the show.

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Cut Loose with Old 97’s Tomorrow at Webster Hall

June 2nd, 2014

Along with bands like Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and the Jayhawks, Old 97’s have been at the forefront of the alt-country scene since forming in Dallas two decades ago. And over the years, two things about what Rolling Stone calls a “hard-partying twang-punk quartet”— Rhett Miller (vocals and guitar), Ken Bethea (guitar and vocals), Murry Hammond (bass and vocals) and Philip Peeples (drums and vocals)—remain true: They have no shortage of original material and they’re a high-energy live band that leaves it all onstage every night. Their most recent album came out at the end of April, and you should consider Paste impressed: “The Old 97’s aren’t fucking around. The band’s 10th full-length, Most Messed Up [stream it below], places the microscope squarely on Miller, who reflects on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being in a working band. The result is a cathartic, punk-rock stomper of a record, and perhaps the first in the band’s catalog to accurately capture their sweatbox live performances.” And speaking of those live performances, you can experience one yourself tomorrow night at Webster Hall. Lydia Loveless opens the show.

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The Legendary Mavis Staples Comes to Music Hall of Williamsburg

May 8th, 2014

Mavis Staples is many things: a civil-rights icon, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an R&B, gospel and soul legend. Her entrance into the music world began in the 1950s as the lead singer of her family’s band, the Staple Singers, which included her father, the aptly nicknamed Pops, and his four daughters. They became known across the world thanks to hit singles like “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “City in the Sky.” But despite her long career, Staples isn’t content to just rest on her laurels, playing the hits. Instead, she continues to record and tour. Her last two albums, 2010’s You Are Not Alone (stream it below) and 2013’s One True Vine (stream it below), each produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, gained a considerable amount of acclaim. And now she’s back out on the road. See Mavis Staples (above, performing “I’ll Take You There” on Later … with Jools Holland, and below, covering “The Weight” with Wilco and Nick Lowe) play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Her goddaughter, Ollabelle’s Amy Helm, opens the show.

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Waiting for Henry Play Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

March 14th, 2014

Singer-guitarist Dave Slomin, drummer-singer Dave Ashdown and bassist Mike Chun are Waiting for Henry, “a new band of old friends.” They were all in groups in upstate New York during the late ’80s, Slomin and Ashdown bandmates, while Chu was part of a different group. Years later, Slomin, who fronted Mr. Henry, and Chun ran into each other in New York City and realized they had similar tastes in music. So when Ashdown later moved to town, the three decided to get to work. Their debut full-length, last year’s Ghosts & Compromise (stream it below), is filled with the kind of twangy guitar-driven Americana that’s seen the band compared to Wilco and Son Volt. And like with those bands, Waiting for Henry (above, performing “Here Comes the Rain”) are best experienced live. See them play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.

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Kingsley Flood Leave Mercury Lounge Crowd Wanting More

September 13th, 2013

Kingsley Flood – Mercury Lounge – September 12, 2013


Near the beginning of last night’s late show at Mercury Lounge, Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri explained that most of their songs were about “guys who do everything right” but fail anyway. Based on the way they blazed through their fun and fiery show, Kingsley Flood are doing most things right, and judging by the audience’s reaction, failure is not in their future. Opening with “Habit,” off their stellar Battles album, they came out swinging with high-energy rock and roll. With a drop of the tambourine and the grab of a fiddle, a trade of the keyboards for a trumpet, the band easily transformed, the sound elasticized between genres, mixing folk, rock and country effortlessly.

Kinglsey Flood worked their way through the album, showing off infectious sing-along lyrics and simple, fresh guitar riffs along the way. A new song, “Set Me Off,” featured a nifty violin bridge from Jenee Morgan Force, while “Waiting for the River to Rise” switched to a more touching folk with a doleful trumpet solo and some wonderful quiet moments. Sometimes when a band asks the crowd to come closer and dance, it sounds like they’re begging. But when Khuri asked the crowd to take a step forward, it felt like permission to let loose and an invitation into the band’s embrace. Kingsley Flood play music you just want to bear hug and the audience got a tight squeeze as the set dropped into an each-song-better-than-the-previous mode.

More than once I had flashes of Wilco, both in spirit—the way they brought a big six-person band to a folk-based rock, mixing raucous and heart—and in sound, like in songs like “The Fire Inside,” a highlight with a great guitar jam from George Hall and the rest of the band clicked in. “King’s Men” was a crowd favorite, swinging on Chris Barrett’s keyboards. The last quarter of the set featured saxophone and trumpet modifiers, the requisite well-loved singing-from-the-crowd-at-the-Merc ploy and multiple new songs extending the range of Kingsley Flood’s sound in impressive fashion. They closed with a new one containing the lyric “everyone knows you’re too old for that,” which felt like a personal jab for the working stiffs out past midnight on a weeknight … until the song exploded in an unexpected and awesome make-you-feel-young-again full-band rock-out fashion. The ending left everyone cheering, clapping and smiling until the lights came on for a band that was clearly doing everything right. —A. Stein

 

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A Birthday Gift for Elliott Smith

August 12th, 2013

Elliott Smith Tribute – The Bowery Ballroom – August 10, 2013


Last Tuesday would have been Elliott Smith’s 44th birthday, and it still feels strange to live in a world without him. Almost 10 years after his death, there was a palpable void on Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom. Perhaps it was because so much else of Elliott was present: his family, friends, fans and, most important, his music to bring everyone together to honor a cause close to his heart. The night, emceed by Rhett Miller of Old 97’s, marked the end of a four-concert stretch of shows across the U.S. in honor of Smith’s birthday, organized by Smith’s sister Ashley Welch. All proceeds went to New Alternatives, a New York City–based organization to help homeless LGBT youth. Welch shared her personal story of how her brother was the first person she told she was gay. Welch knew him for his big heart, and she mentioned how when he was living in New York City, Smith would stuff bills into the shoes of homeless people he saw sleeping on the street, never anything less than a $20.

Saturday’s show featured many guest performers and friends—some who knew Smith well and others who knew him only through his music—sharing their stories. The night’s first set came from Smith’s former manager JJ Gonson’s band Meat Industry. Smith’s close friend Mary Lou Lord brought out with her the big star of the night, her 14-year-old daughter Annabelle, herself a big Smith fan, who sang and played through “St. Ides Heaven” and “I Figured You Out.” Young Hines traveled all the way from Nashville for the night, performing Smith’s most well-known song, “Needle in the Hay.” And Katarina Guerra sang her way through beautiful renditions of “Twilight” and “Between the Bars,” managing to bring out that haunting gorgeousness of Smith’s singing style.

The legendary Bob Dorough covered “Waltz #1” in addition to one of Smith’s favorites, a song he penned for Schoolhouse Rock!, “Figure 8.” Sirius XM DJ Jenny Eliscu shared her story about Smith’s inane ability to cheer up other people and how he stood by her side after her date stood her up at The Bowery Ballroom for a Neutral Milk Hotel show in 1998. Christina Courtin played two of the night’s biggest sing-alongs, “Angeles” and “Rose Parade.” Unannounced guests included Joseph Arthur, who played “Alameda” and was later joined by Pat Sansone of Wilco, who played “Waltz #2” and “Say Yes.” The night ended with everyone returning to the stage together to perform “Happiness” joined by every voice in the audience. There was only one missing. —Dan Rickerhsauser

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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Heavyweights on the Hudson

July 29th, 2013

My Morning Jacket/Wilco/Bob Dylan – Hoboken Pier A Park – July 26, 2013

(Photo: Eddie Bruiser)

What a view! What a bill! What a night! With a stage bracketed by the Empire State Building on one side and the Freedom Tower on the other—and just about perfect outdoor-concert weather—the AmericanaramA tour landed at Pier A Park in Hoboken, N.J., on Friday night. It was an evening for the skyscrapers of live rock and roll to strut their stuff on the same stage. My Morning Jacket began with “Circuital,” Jim James’s acoustic guitar sounding crisp in the summer air. MMJ are masters of the festival set, providing the perfect balance of fan favorites and special moments while packing enough of them into a limited time slot to make it feel like a much longer show. And so within the first four or five songs, the Jacket seemed to hit a couple dozen different spots and styles: “First Light” with a Flying V guitar, Carl Broemel on sax and funky keys from Bo Koster, “The Way That He Sings” with James belting it out to the crowd, a sweet spaced-out “Off the Record” with scrape-the-sky guitar work, and the steel-and-acoustic guitar summer-sun beauty of “Golden.” The special moments came when Brian Jackson joined in on flute, matching James’s howling on a great drums-and-bass-driven “It Beats 4 U” and adding a groovy R&B feel to the Gil Scott-Heron cover “The Bottle.” The action-packed set ended with opener Ryan Bingham coming back for a perfect sing-along cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic “Don’t Do It,” in the style of the Band, multiple guitars manifesting the sound and energy of a full horn section.

Next up, Wilco, another fest-set vet, performed a set perfectly complementing My Morning Jacket’s. They opened with “Dawned on Me,” Nels Cline on a gigantic double-neck guitar that screamed, “Hey, why waste time with formalities?!” Like MMJ, they covered a wide range within the first few songs: “Misunderstood” heavy on the dynamics, the whole band playing to the perfection of the moment, twangy backdrop to Jeff Tweedy’s vocals on “Forget the Flowers” and a rocking “Handshake Drugs,” aka “Nels Cline Unleashed.” While Tweedy may never be Bob Dylan, songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” might make you reconsider. Friday evening, it was literally played for the gorgeous setting sun, a full-color sonic masterpiece with the line “and the city kept blinking” resonating against the Manhattan skyline. Again, the great set got better when they brought out guests, first Warren Haynes for a bluesy “Feed of a Man,” featuring a Godzilla vs. Mothra battle with Cline. (Ironically, Haynes left for the most Allman Brothers-y Wilco tune, “Walken.”) After a let’s-just-rock-out section of “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and “I Got You (At the End of the Century),” they invited Ian Hunter onstage for the end of the set, dedicated to Maxwell’s. The Mott the Hoople frontman led the band through a folkie, “I Wish I Was Your Mother.” The set finished in large, this-is-the-big-city fashion: first Haynes joining with some beautiful playing on a great “California Stars” and then all of My Morning Jacket and Bingham on a fun! wow! cover of “All the Young Dudes.”

Not bad, right? But wait, there’s more! The granddaddy of them all, Bob Dylan and His Band, closed the show. Dylan is still getting it done, the Chrysler Building to the taller and newer high-rises, his voice approaching old bluesman growl. His set featured plenty of newer songs and old classics—plus a cover of “The Weight” with Tweedy, James and the J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf—his band sounding great with a perfect mix of blues and country under a clear night sky. Compared to the opening sets, Dylan took his own pace, a natural gait of a man who’s done a few shows in his time. Personally, I was excited to hear two of my favorite Dylan tunes, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me.” What a night! —A. Stein

 

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Jim James Lights Up Webster Hall

April 30th, 2013

Jim James – Webster Hall – April 29, 2013


Jim James is a human sunset: the multihued snapshot-worthy phenomenon bridging day and night. So it made perfect sense that the stage backdrop for his way-sold-out Webster Hall show last night was an array of LEDs spoked like the rays of the sun as it passes over the horizon—and it even displayed the colors to match. Opening with “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.),” the lead track off his new Regions of Light and Sound of God album, James appropriately sang, “You need the dark as much as the sun” as his backing band laid down a vicious nighttime groove.

The rest of the show was essentially a live version of the album, a set that felt broken into a few smaller parts. The opening number coupled with the heavy keys-and-bass “Know Til Now” represented James’s “Don’t worry, Webster Hall, I brought my own disco” portion of the night, the audience matching the energy from the stage as best they could. Next was a quieter, more acoustic section, marked by the beautiful instrumental “Exploding” followed by the pretty-melody section highlighted by “Of the Mother Again,” the lights flipping between sky blue and cloud white while a very funky extended Rhodes vamp churned the crowd. The set closed with a dark last-purple-throes-of-daylight pairing, headed by “All Is Forgiven,” with a constant swell of bass guitar and a marked rise in intensity that was stretched out into wonderful, mysterious-shroud territory.

Throughout, James’s presence was the focus. His activity was like an ’80s movie montage of motion, touching the extended fingers of those in the front row with his own, like E.T. with a cosmic cure-all, dancing away like an extra in Footloose with uninhibited glee and even doing some sort of mutation of Daniel LaRusso’s crane technique. Still, when it came down to it, his band carried the show. Whether it was an early set drum solo, full-groove keyboard playing, heavy guitar distortion or the constant funky bass, members of the audience were constantly craning their necks to see who was playing what and from where which sound was coming. As they followed James through a five-song, B-sides and rarities kind of encore that included “His Master’s Voice” and “The Right Place” off the Monsters of Folk album, it seemed this band needed their own name, an identity of their own. I think Jim James and the Sunsets has a nice ring to it. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Jim James and the Roots play Celebrate Brooklyn at Prospect Park on 6/18, and My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Bob Dylan play Pier A in Hoboken, N.J., on 7/26.)

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Double Down with Two Nights of the Old 97’s

October 23rd, 2012

Along with bands like Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and the Jayhawks, Old 97’s have been at the forefront of the alt-country scene since forming in Dallas two decades ago. And over the years, two things about the quartet—Rhett Miller (vocals and guitar), Ken Bethea (guitar and vocals), Murry Hammond (bass and vocals) and Philip Peeples (drums and vocals)— remain true: They have no shortage of original material and they’re a high-energy live band that leaves it all onstage every night. It’s hard to believe the group’s third album, Too Far to Care, which so deftly walks the line between twangy Texas country and mainstream popular music that it, perhaps, represents the perfect Venn diagram of those who equally love country and rock, came out 15 years ago. But it’s true. And the Old 97’s (above, doing “Timebomb,” Too Far to Care’s lively opening track, for KEXP FM) are out on the road celebrating its anniversary by playing the acclaimed album in its entirety plus a second set of hits. See them, along with Salim Nourallah and Rhett Miller, tonight at Webster Hall and tomorrow night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

 

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Wilco Carries a Big Stick

July 26th, 2012

Wilco – Terminal 5 – July 25, 2012


Walk softly and carry a big stick. That’s Wilco in a nutshell. The veterans of that-was-awesome rock shows swept through NYC this week, wrapping up the third of three sold-out shows in the city last night at Terminal 5 with an aw-shucks ease despite delivering two-and-a-half hours of heavy-hitting rock and roll. The band started on that soft side, boldly going quiet with a meditative “One Sunday Morning,” off last year’s The Whole Love. The normally raucous cavern of T5 was almost silent as Wilco layered subtle melodies, with guitarist Nels Cline adding fills that were the sweet-and-sour sips of lemonade on a summer day—which is to say, perfect. They followed this with the first of many “big sticks,” including “The Art of Almost,” which was everything the opener wasn’t: loud, intense, modern.

From there the band fell into their tried and true formula for live-show success—newer songs, older songs, big and bombastic, small and quiet and sometimes all of these at the same time. “At Least That’s What You Said” was an early highlight, with frontman Jeff Tweedy delivering the opening stanzas in his sweet, ragged voice and then Cline and drummer Glenn Kotchke exploding into the anthemic second half. Those in attendance had a veteran feel. Knowing they were in for the long haul, they reserved their energetic applause for the true high moments. Most of these centered around Cline’s superlative guitar playing, beautifully drawling pedal steel on “What’s the World Got in Store” and then an impossibly dizzying solo, fittingly, on “Impossible Germany” that would have tied knots in a lesser guitarist’s fingers. And while the band certainly mixed up the set lists over the course of the three local shows, there’s no reason you wouldn’t want to hear the triumphant two-guitar climax of “Impossible Germany” every night.

Tweedy’s banter was more like meta-banter, asking everyone if they were “doing all right” and then riffing on how canned that was. “That’s all I can offer as a frontman,” he quipped. The show wound down in epic fashion with a cosmic, psychedelic take on “Not for the Season” doused in blue and green lights, a crowd-pleasing “Theologians” and a gong-infused “I’m the Man Who Loves You” leading up to the set-closing cacophony of “Shot in the Arm.” As always, Wilco saved plenty of ammunition for an extended encore, tacking on nine more songs over the course of two well-deserved encores, including favorites like “Passenger Side,” “Casino Queen” and a rather rocking “Kicking Television.” In the end, though, walking softly won the night: Tweedy brought things back down for a show-closing “The Lonely 1.” With Cline back on steel guitar, it matched the perfect quiet beauty of the opening tune, bringing things full circle and almost feeling like they could do it all over again in similarly epic fashion. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com