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Concert Review: Wilco—Red Rocks, Colorado

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On July 3, 2009 Wilco played Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. A beautiful venue with giant, jutting sharp stones and a killer view; people of all ages milled about waiting to get inside. After their Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and assorted other containers were discarded—they filed in rather quietly entering the security check for the venue.

My boyfriend got in with a canteen of water, but most people purchased drinks in clear plastic cups from the concession stands. Some beer was being drank, but water and wine seemed to be the most dominant beverages.

We were getting our seats and had a near-fracas with two generously proportioned people from Iowa over bench space (although we had reserved seats), however, no shoving ensued while the Wilco boys launched into their theme song off of their latest disc The Album. Moral of the story so far:  You can put lipstick on a pit bull, but it will still try to squat on your reserved seats. 

The band played, "I am trying to break your heart" from 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The tune had that slow build up that leads to a near-crescendo that escorted the listener into the meat of the song.  

I tried to yell stuff and sing along, but I just did not pick up a head of steam until John Stirratt came up front and sang "It's Just That Simple" on the acoustic guitar.Then I was prompted by some unseen force to yell, "Go John go!" because I knew no one else nearby would attempt to dare.

The whole band are talented musicians. Jeff Tweedy executed amazing guitar feats that night, and by no means under looked, Nels Cline did the same with forced humility and a sense of real purpose.  Pat Sansone cooked on the keyboards and other instruments and Mikael Jorgenson noodled like a veteran expert who knew something we didn't know. Glen Kotche ruled  on the skins as did John Stirratt on guitar. Glen even held up his sticks in the air with his arms straight in an almost emulation of the quintessential rock drummer. 

To say it was a classic Wilco show would be a massive understatement.  The band was as precise as a souped-up computer on steroids. The band members hit every note on time and it rang through the place like an invisible, innocuous golden dust.  

Tweedy told us we were looking "Well" and then later compared themselves to Queen and Kiss.  I think the only way Wilco could even begin to sound like Queen would be for them to do a stellar cover version of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," but then what do I know? I did, however, see Queen in London around 1975. 

The guys shot out the bars from "Spiders" from their 2004 album, "A Ghost is Born." A long, loud and very satisfying ride of a tune—everyone appeared to be out of their seat and dancing to the music. The song cooked and popped like evil bacon and water in a greasy skillet.  

At some point, I can't recall correctly, Jeff and company had the entire audience stand and deliver the clap of their hands for an entire ten minutes. This was a chore and my ancient, over-worked arms got tired.  I don't see the point of this exercise, but I could witness the dedication of Wilco fans in Colorado all through the audience like an acceptable virus.  

I was so happy that I lost track of the ending and encore of the show. Being sober, it was hard to believe.  They cast their musical spell on all of us. 

During "Handshake Drugs" after purchasing two Eldorado Waters from the concession stand left of the stage, I lost my phone.

I spent the time they played my favorite number running all around the joint with a flashlight searching for my communication unit. I even went down row twenty-four—which freaked a few hippies out I think. 

During the second or third encore "Hummingbird" we decided to exit after I left phone numbers with Kent from security (he was nice). This was slightly to my chagrin, but it was time to get out before everyone else and their Mom decided it was time for coffee. 

Walking back, we could hear the band where the parked cars were sitting patiently waiting for riders. I recalled my Grateful Dead parking lot experience in Chicago circa 1995 sitting in a circle under a tree with a hippie girl, a stoner guy, and a clown from Dallas. 

We cruised over to the near-antiseptic porta-potties and coming out of the stall, I popped out like a slightly cracked jack-in-the-box and surprised the girl going in on business. "Nice exit, Lady," she wise-cracked. Thanks young lady. I do it all the time.

Later that night we called my cell phone as we drove through Golden. A drunk guy with a cowboy voice tells me to ask for John or Mike, then he chats with my boyfriend. He tells us to call the next day after twelve p.m. and we can pick it up in Cherry Creek. They will put it in the mailbox. Needless to say, my fourth of July turned into a wild goose chase in Denver to get it back.  Thanks to Thomas, Mike, and John for leaving it in the mailbox as planned. I really needed it. 

My friend Janis texted me today and told me that a relative is  going to see the Wilco show tonight in Lowell, Massachusetts. She asked me when I called her what the audience would be like there. I told her they were somewhat mellow, supportive, and fun, but there were always a few crazies to liven up the place. 

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  • I saw Wilco in Dallas last year, and it was fantastic. There were some odd things about the evening as well: One woman had a seizure, I believe, and her brother (?) was quite angry about it.

    Still, I remember the music. The beautiful, precise (just as you say), perfect music. So haunting and rugged, so passion-filled and clean. So amazing!

  • I feel for them. That must have been very difficult to attend a show and have that happen.

    The music is perfect. It’s amazing this band has that edgy thing going on. They remind me of a million bands all rolled together in one. It’s almost odd really.