Wilco at Hill Auditorium
October 10, 2004, Ann Arbor
It was Wilco channeled through King Crimson channeled through Blue Cheer performed by Wilco.
Remember the alt-country label applied to the band? Think of this performance as being one that brought ctl-alt-delete to mind.
Wilco’s music, especially with its latest, generally unremarked disc (A Ghost Is Born), can be characterized as having layers of sound that are aurally opaque. Imagine exceedingly thin fabric. Layer upon layer and soon there is what seems to be a solid structure. That wonderful combination was replaced in this performance by chunks of some adamantine material.
Intricacy gives way to cacophony.
Nels Cline, the recently added guitarist and all around sound-generator, is a better guitar player than Tweedy. Remarkable. Amazing. Providing filigrees of sound in, around and through what would be ordinarily thought of as the “Wilco sound,” accentuating it in ways that make the familiar sound new. He’d better not throw away his resume.
Why is it necessary to have a screen behind the band that alternates between images that would be appropriate for “Hullabaloo,” Animal Planet, and black-and-white footage that cries out for treatment by the denizens of MST3K?
When all the members of the band sans two (Tweedy and Stirratt) are playing, in effect, static, during “Via Chicago,” is it necessary to “show” that by making the image on the aforementioned screen appear to be breaking up? Wouldn’t we “get” it?
Hill Auditorium is renowned for its acoustics. Why did Tweedy’s vocals, for the most part, sound muddy when you could hear every utterance of Tracee Mae Miller, of the opening act, Blanche, even though death bed confessions in bad Civil War movies (vide Blanche’s seemingly Cold Mountain-inspired shtick) are more powerfully projected?
The auditorium seats 4,163. It seemed to be packed. The audience was malleable.
Something in my ears, bloodier than blood.
Glorious Noise used to have a link on the Wilco website. It was removed. Chances are, it won’t be resurrected.
Be sure to check out Glorious Noise’s previous reports on Wilco.