This Weekend: Wilco at the beautiful Fox Theater Pomona.
Better Than: Sneaking downloads of all those leaks of their forthcoming self-titled album.
Saturday night was a Wilco first for me--no, it definitely wasn't my first time catching them live, but it was the first time I've ever seen frontman Jeff Tweedy even somewhat happy.
Tweedy replaced his usual endearing snark with smiles and requests to sing along with him, even jumping onto the floor and playing the guitar amongst flashing cameras, lit iPhones and huddled fans.
The band started out with "Wilco (The Song)," which is set to be the opening track to the soon-to-be-released self-titled full-length, in which Tweedy promises, "Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you, baby."
Though Wilco's always been known for their solid shows, the band seemed to mesh particularly well last night with a diverse setlist that spanned their much acclaimed 15-year existence. Wilco opted to perform just a couple of new songs, the hard-driving "Bull Black Nova" and the aforementioned "Wilco (The Song)."
Truth: Tweedy nearly gave me a fucking aneurysm some time after the band finished up a rousing "Can't Stand It" and some time before the campfire sing-along version (with lapsteel, naturally) of "Jesus Etc.," when he announced that Wilco was "approaching the end of an era," before trailing off with a "we'll keep you updated on that." Turns out, it was just guitarist/keyboardist/maracist/etc.(ist) Pat Sansone's 40th birthday. The band celebrated briefly by fading the raucous "NOTHIN'"s of "Misunderstood" into a birthday song, and produced a cake with lit candles before Tweedy quipped, "Back to work."
The only downer of the evening: With the recent death of former keyboard player/guitarist Jay Bennett fresh on everyone's minds, there was no mention of Bennett by name, but the moving performances of some of the tracks Bennett co-wrote--"California Stars," "Can't Stand It," "I'm the Man Who Loves You," "Hoodoo Voodoo"--paid him the respect his memory deserves.
"Wilco (The Song)"
"I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"
"Bull Black Nova"
"You Are My Face"
"A Shot in the Arm"
"Pick Up the Change"
"Can't Stand It"
"Hate it Here"
"You Never Know"
"I'm the Man Who Loves You"
"Happy Birthday to You" (It totally counts.)
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Personal Bias: I'm pretty sure I prefer my Tweedy nice and snippy. The only time Old Tweedy shone through at that night all was when he called out a dude who was obviously smoking weed in the audience--"Who do you think you're fooling?"
Random Detail: Nels Cline could pass off for 16 or 60.
My New Favorite Large Capacity Venue: The Fox Theater Pomona. I'll see you at Band of Horses.
I'm Shameless: Anybody have an extra ticket for Tuesday?