My roommate Andy and I went to see Wilco
play the Agora Theatre
tonight. I was somewhat concerned about making this trip. (Driving at night in a city I don't know, ect.) But the drive was really painless, as we just had to get on I-90 West for two hours and get off at Euclid St.
Anyway, the theatre was was kind of interesting. It was both historically interesting (the sign in front kicks ass, and the age of the place evokes a natural curiosity) and run-down at the same time.
The opening act was a band called Califone. They were what a good opening act should be: they kept your attention but sucked enough to make wish the headliner was already out on stage.
Before Wilco came out they played this soundtrack of noise and electronic squeaks that made me think of a Tiger mauling some monkeys. After that they come out and launch into two songs from Being There. I was somewhat surprised because I thought they would come out fast and heavy with stuff from the new album. Sure enough though, the next two songs were I Am Trying to Break Your Heart and War on War both from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. These two songs were the highlight of the evening for me. However good stuff was still to come.
Let me pause here for a moment and say I was somewhat concerned with how Andy would like the show. I took him to see Jay Farrar last year in Pittsburgh, and even though he said he really liked it I wasn't sure he was telling the truth. I was doubtful because Farrar played mainly acoustic material and Andy tends to like bands like Lincoln Park and POD.
One of the things I noticed as the concert progressed, is that Wilco live is all about atmosphere. It's prominent on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot with all of it's electronic beeps and thumps; I was just surprised that the band tried to recreate that same feeling in person. It's a neat feeling though, to have an outer wall of sound and then have the basic song come out of it.
I was impressed by frontman Jeff Tweedy's voice. On the records it usually seems flat and rough around the edges -- probably a product of too many cigarettes. But live, he seemed to have command of a voice that had a lot more depth to it.
I also noticed Glenn Kotche, the band's new drummer. He was a fearless wild man. I loved it. I like drummers that try and take an active part in the preformance, instead of sitting back and just providing a backdrop for the guitars or vocals. In fact he busted one of his snare drums on "Casino Queen".
Finally, towards the end of the show a woman threw her bra on stage. At first nobody noticed it, then as Tweedy looked around he noticed it on the ground. He turned back to the audience looking dumbfounded. "Well, that's a first," he said. He thanked the now braless woman and said, "Watch out, we can't have any jiggling," then pointing back to Kotche, "we have children here."