Jump to content

Wilco — 17 September 2016, Mill Valley, CA (Mountain Theater at Mount Tamalpais State Park) [Sound Summit Festival]

Recommended Posts

Couldn't ask for a much better day or setting to close out a West Coast tour as well as watch what most likely was Wilco's last "real" U.S. show of 2016. And you couldn't really ask for a more fitting cast of guests to help the band cap a successful run of shows in California than local resident Bob Weir, not to mention esteemed guitarist Bill Frisell and pedal steel stalwart Greg Leisz. (You could ask for a little jolt of oxygen to help with the altitude and some Dramamine to help with the motion sickness from all the switchbacks you have to take to get up there, however! :omg)


Anyway, fortunately the drive was survived, the crowd was mellow and friendly vibes were in the air. (In fact, Glenn was spotted watching Los Lobos — as was just about the entire Wilco contingent, including Jeff — wearing a T-shirt that said simply, "VIBES." We didn't think it referred to the vibraphone. Please tell me someone got a picture of that... :pray)


Clearly it was event with a lot of kindred spirits. Nels came out and shredded with fellow Angelenos Los Lobos on a song during their set and then there was the big finale with Weir, Frisell and Leisz joining Wilco for its encore with Frisell and Leisz on Nels' side of the stage and a lot of fun being had by the three of them. I'm sure that some of the Los Lobos guys would have come out as well, but I think they had a post-fest gig at the local club to get to. So instead we got a surprise set-ending version of Tomorrow Never Knows, which gave Weir a chance to sing and let loose a bit on guitar; he was already pretty loose in general, I'd say, coming on stage in shorts and Birkenstocks. ;)


From a Wilco perspective, at least for those who care about production and gear and the like, I guess what was most interesting was the return to the Star Wars stage setup that the band hadn't used since the very first show of this run nearly three weeks earlier. Gone were the hanging "faux-liage" and stripped-down stage gear of the indoor Wilco Schmilco tour and back were the usual assortment of pedals and amps (including Jeff's big Marshall cabinet) that had been used for the outdoor shows over the summer.


Similarly, the setlist somewhat gravitated back toward some of the "outdoor" songs like Art of Almost, Handshake Drugs and I'm The Man Who Loves You, which if I'm not mistaken weren't played at any of the five Fillmore shows the previous week. Of course, the band also incorporated a few songs off the new record and a handful of Star Wars tunes as well so it was a nice mix. And it was a pleasant surprise that Wilco got to play a full-length set — 2 hours, 13 minutes, by my count — at a multi-band event that was actually a benefit concert to help maintain the gorgeous Mount Tamalpais. The venue itself was a rustic amphitheater with stone stadium seating carved into a hillside, sort of like a smaller combination of Red Rocks and the Gorge.


From Banter Corner, there wasn't a great deal of quotable quippage even though Jeff was clearly enjoying himself up there, chuckling/shrugging at his own mistakes, joking (or maybe not) about the altitude — during I'm The Man Who Loves You, for example, he got behind in the lyrics at one point as the music raced forward and afterward he said something about needing some oxygen and how he was from the plains and wasn't used to this — and generally playing the role of bandleader. After one flub during Hummingbird, Jeff said, "I like to pretend to mess up every once in a while to humanize the band." :lol


About three songs in, Jeff informed the crowd that he had "wanted to jump on stage during Los Lobos' set and tell you that was the happiest you were gonna be all day." Then later he said something about how during every show he looked out at the crowd and figured out who his favorite person was, and that today his favorite was a guy in his sightline who was on the phone with a finger in his ear. :pirate


All in all, Sound Summit proved to be a nice coda for the band after eight memorable shows in the Golden State. From the standpoint of playing some music with some friends (and in front of some friends), enjoying some truly spectacular scenery and benefitting a good cause, you couldn't ask for much better. :thumbup


Here was the complete setlist as played (didn't see a printed setlist, so can't say if there were any changes):

If I Ever Was A Child
Cry All Day
Someone To Lose
The Joke Explained
You Are My Face
Impossible Germany
Hummingbird (started and restarted)
Handshake Drugs
Cold Slope>
King Of You
Ashes of American Flags
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>
Art of Almost
Pickled Ginger
Forget The Flowers
Box Full of Letters
Heavy Metal Drummer>
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Random Name Generator
Passenger Side
We Aren't The World (Safety Girl)
The Late Greats
Hesitating Beauty*
Christ For President*
California Stars* (with Bob Weir on electric guitar)
Tomorrow Never Knows* [The Beatles] (with Bob Weir on electric guitar and vocals)

* — with Bill Frisell on electric guitar and Greg Leisz on pedal steel

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a few notes to add to the thorough review by bop (whom I wished I had finally met yesterday, but oh well). 


Getting Wilco to Sound Summit was no easy feat both contractually and practically. Michael Nash, the Executive Director of Roots and Branches Conservancy and the Producer of Sound Summit, put his considerable talents to work to make it all happen. And he was lucky that Wilco had this date free after their LA gigs. From a practical point of view that entire scene (the entire stage, the food trucks, bathrooms, and everything else) has to be carted up the mountain in small trucks and carted back down again, something most of us don't think about but is a great feat of human endeavor. Sound Summit will end up being, if it takes on traditional status, our "end of summer" party for years to come. As Jeff said towards the end: "This is heaven."


Bill Frissel was wonderfully melodic, emotional, restrained. "Turn, turn, turn" brought tears. If Jim Hall was 25 years younger (he's now gone) he would sound like Frissell.


Los Lobos played in the intense heat of the sun, with Hidalgo sweating up a storm and yet maintaining his deep-soul self through "Are you experienced?", "Cinnamon Girl," "Mas y mas," and a few East LA songs from their early days.


This particular Wilco show was, as bbop described, much more like their big shows than the intimate ones at the Fillmore. They trucked out their full set of equipment from Chicago for Sound Summit. There were ragtag moments, a little unusual for them, including Nels not quite hitting some notes on complicated runs (something you would only hear and see up close), and Jeff flubbing some lyrics ("You know I will" for "I know you will" on Forget the Flowers for example, or on Hummingbird). 


What came through, as at the Fillmore, is how good the song writing is, including the newer songs: Someone to lose sounds great, same with Pickled Ginger, and Random Name Generator, among others.


I could have done without Weir at the end, but he lives on the mountain and wanted to be included. He's also an old friend of Nash's.


Not heard at the Fillmore, or the Ace, or Sound Summit: King Pin, Casino Queen, Hoodoo Voodoo.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A story about Nels sit in with Los Lobos from someone who works for Los Lobos:


conversation i had with Nels Cline as LL was finishing their set (Mas Y Mas):

me: hey Nels, you wanna sit in with Los Lobos?
Nels Cline: uh yeah, sure. which song?
me: this one
Nels Cline: the one they're playing right now?
me: yeah
Nels Cline: lol, you're serious?
me: lol, yeah
Nels Cline (looks over at his guitar tech who is already onstage with Nels' gear): eh fuck it why not

dude walks up the steps, grabs his Jazzmaster, walks to the stage lip next to Save, demolishes a solo for about 2.5 minutes, unplugs, and walks off. fucking sick.


Some more tidbits and pics here, with more to come:  http://forums.phishhook.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=967804&sid=63874f3d9de89c9b1926feb48f89666d

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the extra notes, Ragtime Willie and jw harding. We were wondering if anyone/anything had been helicoptered in!


I expected a requisite festival set but was delighted to get a real show instead. It was great to hear Nels rock out, Greg Leisz is one of my favorite musical sidemen, and I will NEVER say no to Wilco covering the Beatles. Sound Summit turned out to be a nice companion piece to the Fillmore shows, as well as an awesome show on its own.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tomorrow Never Knows




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Wow, great video. I've been hoping they bring that cover back - don't think it's been played since their tour with Dylan where Weir sat in a few times. Nels sounds incredible emulating that backwards guitar and effects. Would be nice to get a bit clearer audio to make out what Frisell and Leisz are playing better. Nice to see an animated Weir. Very cool and trippy fade out. Good song with guests, and looks like a great atmosphere.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, I'm with A-man - murky and unstructured. A lot could be due to the (lack of) quality of the recording device, but I would have wanted to hear that famous drum rhythm more up front too.


I'd say it's due to playing a song that was never meant to be played live. And a bunch of guests thrown in on stage to boot. They should have done something simpler. They could do Here Comes The Sun or what have you. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...