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Wilco — 29 September 2017, Marfa, TX (El Cosmico) [Trans-Pecos Festival of Music+Love-Day 2 of 4]


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Even after hurtling through the dark West Texas night and getting a few precious hours of shuteye, I'm not entirely sure what to make of the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music+Love. On one hand, it's about the best you could hope for in a festival — picturesque setting, not too crowded, intimate stage setup, nice food and drink (free Topo Chico water! free tequila shot added to sodas by a taco truck!) and plenty of restrooms. Even little quirks like the dog that briefly ran on stage during Hurray For The Riff Raff's set (dogs ran off leash all around) or the use of a giant ladder to adjust the lights between sets were charming.

 

And I haven't even mentioned the wood-burning communal hot tubs, almost like little teacups, located within a stone's throw of the main stage. Of course, the whole scene at El Cosmico — a unique hotel where the rooms are mostly Airstream trailers, yurts and tepees — is pretty singular. It's half like the coolest place ever and half like the most satirizable setting ever. One can only imagine if a show like Portlandia ever got a hold of this place.

 

Based on what Jeff said not long into Wilco's headlining set at the midpoint of the festival, it was fairly easy to know what side the band came down on as it concerned Trans-Pecos. "This is pretty nice," Jeff said, looking around with an approving nod. "It's like our own little sane corner of the world." Then he added, "Is this what they mean when they talk about 'the bubble?' Well, I dig it. I dig the bubble."

 

It's difficult to imagine that many of the attendees disagreed with him. When you're presented with a property like El Cosmico and a town like Marfa, it's hard not to embrace the opportunity to escape the madness of the outside world for at least a few hours. Of course that escape meant a few sacrifices when it came to the Wilco production. The stage, which featured mulch in the pit area, was certainly not the caliber on which a band of that level would probably normally play. Aside from the aforementioned manual light adjustments — not joking when I say that a man in a cowboy hat would literally carry a giant ladder to the front of the stage before each set and climb up and adjust the lights above as needed — the stage specs weren't sufficient to mount the 'fauxliage' backdrop.

 

But those sorts of challenges were easily forgotten — except perhaps by the band's crew — when viewed within the overall context of the venue and the event, which definitely had a backyard feel to it. Jeff even brought up that sort of vibe on more than one occasion, such as when he tried to encourage a singalong on Passenger Side by saying that he was sure there was a campfire going somewhere and adding that the campfires he had been a part of usually fizzled out because he only knew how to play his own songs. He joked that his wife, Susie, would always say, "Don't you know any songs that I know?" :lol

 

Other brief visits to Banter Corner came later in the set when someone yelled out "Jeff Leppard," a callback to Jeff's 2007 solo show in Marfa when midway through his set, someone yelled out, "Who are you?" At least that's how Jeff remembered the story, whether or not it was entirely accurate. "Is that what happened?" Jeff said. "Maybe I made it up." Later in the set, Jeff said the band had an off day the following day and suggested that maybe it should stay an extra day and play another show. When that idea was met with enthusiastic approval by the audience, Jeff backtracked a bit. "That's not how it works," he said. "We'll negotiate." :pirate

 

It was clear that Jeff and his bandmates were feeling pretty comfortable, though. After apologizing for the distance between band and crowd earlier in the show (which actually wasn't that bad) — "They told us (the buffer) was for our safety," Jeff said. "You all look like a pretty threatening bunch, especially that child right there." — Jeff actually came out to the lip of the stage during the closing breakdown in Hummingbird and went down the line hi-fiving the front row.

 

From a setlist standpoint, things weren't radically different than they have been for much of this year. But it is nice that the band is mixing it up a bit more on this run than perhaps it had previously, so if we didn't get Poor Places>Reservations, as I thought might be a possibility, then we at least got a surprising (and lovely) mid-set performance of The Lonely 1. It's also not too often you get both You Are My Face and Side With The Seeds in the same set anymore. (And once again, for the benefit of a certain Brazilian friend, Glenn did stand up on his drum stool before I'm The Man Who Loves You...to the delight of everyone. :thumbup ).

 

At any rate, even if it might not have been my favorite performance of the tour thus far, I think this last truly outdoor Wilco performance for some time will nonetheless stick with me. The unique setting and the smiles on everyone's faces made it well worth the effort required to get there (and get back). What can I say? Perhaps it's time we all embrace our inner hippie or cosmic cowboy a little bit. There are, I'm sure, much worse things. ;)

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (Spiders (Kidsmoke) was listed as the second encore on the printed setlist, but wasn't played):

 

You Are My Face

If I Ever Was A Child

Cry All Day

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>

Art Of Almost

Pickled Ginger

Side With The Seeds

Passenger Side

Misunderstood (hootennanny arrangement — Nels on lap steel, Pat on banjitar and John on 12-string acoustic)

Someone To Lose

War On War

Via Chicago

Bull Black Nova (acoustic/electric hybrid arrangement)

The Lonely 1

Impossible Germany

California Stars

Forget The Flowers

I'm Always In Love

Heavy Metal Drummer>

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hummingbird

The Late Greats

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Random Name Generator

Jesus, etc.

Hate It Here

Monday>

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

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Sounds fantastic. Thanks for the excellent recap. I'm glad they are getting more adventurous with the setlist again. Opening with You Are My Face is pretty great.

Thanks for reading, man. I appreciate it (to everyone who takes a few minutes to do so)! Hopefully more great stuff to come, but I've been pretty happy with the "nuggets" Jeff builds in each night. Face is a good opener, for sure. Maybe someday we'll even get back to the days when they opened with Hell Is Chrome!

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As long as they're not assless, I'm fine with it (I'll let you find an image of that)! B)

 

Also, perhaps you'd consider adding this guitar as an accessory...attachicon.gif IMG_5267.JPGattachicon.gif IMG_5335.JPG

Great write up. Going to be a very different vibe here in Austin, in concert hall venue, a first fire them in Austin that I can recall. Can't find the owl though - maybe I'm just going blind or not close enough

 

Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk

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