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Wilco fans delighted with band’s song list

by Heather MacIntyre

Some might say 7 p.m. is a little early for an evening weekend concert in the summer. The usual turnover for shows start around 9 or 10. Though I suppose we should declare a couple definitions for some of these terms. For a lot of live music enthusiasts, there lies a difference between a “show” and a “concert.” A show is held at a smaller venues with no more than 1,500 capacity (and that is pushing it) with very little security. Concerts are held at coliseums, amphitheatres or arenas, and hold thousands of attendees, employing almost a hundred or more workers for security, concession and every other need. Concerts are usually seated, with the option to stand at your seat — this leaves some smaller indoor places up for grabs on your term preferences (like Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium). Regardless, Friday evening was a grand night of celebrating Wilco (www.wilcoworld.net) for 08-08-08 in Cary at the concert venue Koka Booth Amphitheatre (www.boothampitheatre.com).

A group of college students arrived halfway during Bon Iver’s (www.myspace.com/boniver) set, disregarding the knowledge that doors opened at 5 p.m. Concerts, unlike shows, start when they say they are going to start — they take off like an airplane. Shows are more like a carpool; slightly more fluid in time-frame, sometimes waiting on more people to show up if they know half of their presale hasn’t arrived yet by show time. So these kids meandered around in search for a spot amongst the varied terrain, and settled on a pine tree where they kicked cones to spread out their blanket. Slightly annoyed that the show didn’t wait for them, they joined in just in time for the set of men on stage, who were all sitting in chairs with their instruments while they were confidently smiling and rocking out. The place in general felt somewhat on the small side for an outdoor venue, with just a medium-decent amount of seats up front, but mostly just the ground. Bon Iver’s performance was great, but it seemed rather subdued due to the sound. There were no complaints about the music, but either the speakers weren’t kicking out enough juice, or something involving the projection was off, causing what the lawn-sitters considered to be poor quality. It was as if their delicate sound got lost in the trees.

Wilco’s performance was still exceeding my expectations, or maybe I just hadn’t set the bar high enough. I loved their recent album Sky Blue Sky, but I never imagined, and was pleasantly surprised, that their live show would bring so much of their old music too. The horn section added so much to the performance, and worked itself into a few songs they weren’t recorded with.

“They played a lot of songs that I haven’t heard live in a while,” commented Dave Cohen, a longtime Wilco Fan, “I mean, they played ‘Monday’, which is one of my favorites. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them play that before.” The Chicago-based rock acoustic band is known for a rather Southern charm (without sounding Southern at all). Tweedy has his usual prickly persona but expressed his love for North Carolina and it’s fans. The place was packed for Wilco, and it seems like year after year they have only been multiplying in popularity. Their songs were played very tight, and you could tell even from the back part of the lawn. But, even at their loudest, most rocking out moments of Wilco’s songs, you could still talk in a normal voice to the person next to you and understand each other with perfect clarity — it’s just something one isn’t used to when attending live shows.

Kids ran around in circles off to the side, dancing (you know, the weight shift from hip to hip with their hands in the air). Though “Misunderstood” swelled the crowd at the beginning of the first set, when they finally brought out the brass band for the first and second encore, it really filled out the sound. The encore was one of the best I had seen in a long time, and the weather was perfect for the entire evening. The quiet concert was worth the trip, and ended up being one of the best social settings in which you could hear yourself think and appreciate music in one. Though next time, if you’re really going to pay attention to one of your favorite bands… splurge the extra few dollars to get closer to the stage.

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