Thursday, December 15, 2011

Outtasite! Wilco Rocks Riv With Rollicking Show -- Concert Review

Concert Review

with Eleventh Dream Day
December 13, 2011
Riviera Theatre, Chicago

This was the Wilco of my dreams.

You see, I've liked virtually everything the Chicago-based band has done over the last decade, beginning with 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an album of great beauty, experimentation and introspection that many consider among the very best of the 21st Century.

But my favorite Wilco album remains 1996's guitar-driven, somewhat Replacementsesque Being There, followed by 1999's Summer Teeth. Although the band, whose personnel beyond singer Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt has completely changed since the '90s, has rightfully earned worldwide acclaim and swelling popularity, they've more infrequently "rocked"--in the bar chord, pounding drums sense of the word--since the turn of the century.

That's not to say they haven't been good, even excellent, at many of the six Wilco shows I've attended since 2002--plus a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Tweedy perform in a living room--prior to the one on Tuesday night.

The concert was the second of the band's mini-tour of Chicago that saw them play the Civic Opera House on Monday, with shows at The Vic, Metro and Lincoln Hall still to come. I would've liked to go to the Opera House show, but when new tickets were released for the Riv on Friday, I was able to grab a pair. And no matter how good the first show was, or the subsequent ones might be, I'm perfectly satisfied with the one I saw.

For with Tweedy playing an electric guitar most of the show, rather than an acoustic, the band rocked in a way I'd never before witnessed. And kudos to all their sound engineers, because even from the top of the Riv, the sound was phenomenal.

This isn't to imply that Wilco became the Ramones or aforementioned Replacements. A multitude of weird sounds and obtuse textures from the six skilled players were still in ready abundance, such as on the new "Art of Almost" and "Via Chicago," with its breathtakingly thunderous bursts by drummer Glenn Kotche.

Take a look at Wilco's setlist from Tuesday and you won't see that it's full of hits, or even weighted to the early albums.

In fact, there are many songs I would have loved to hear that weren't played. But what was played was performed with such a sonic blast that it didn't matter. And true thumpers like "I Got You (At the End of the Century)," "I Must Be High," "I'm Always In Love," "Can't Stand It," "Just A Kid," "Monday" and "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" ravaged the paint-peeling walls of the 94-year-old, 2,500 capacity venue.

The band played for 2 hours and 20 minutes--the epic "Spiders" in Encore 2 wasn't even the finale, as "I'm A Wheel" followed to end the night--and proved to me like never before that if they aren't America's best rock band, they sure can sound like it when they want to.

Here's just a snippet I shot of "Outtasite (Outta Mind)"

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