bböp Posted June 29, 2019 Share Posted June 29, 2019 So...karaoke night, eh? In what was almost certain to be a polarizing kickoff show on the first night of the sixth edition of the Solid Sound Festival, Wilco went through with a much-discussed plan for its Friday show to have some fans (and a few "ringers," as it turned out) take over the lead vocal duties on their choice of one of the band's songs. The event was billed as live karaoke with Wilco, and (most) folks were selected to sing on the basis of a short video submission a few weeks prior.This plan was met with enthusiasm by some, derision by others and curiosity by most. How would it work exactly, and would the singers be any good? Did that even matter? And to add further fuel to the fire, should Jeff and his bandmates even be undertaking such a gambit after only recently returning from a lengthy hiatus and knowing this would be many fans' first opportunity to see them play live in a long time?Well, I suppose I can report that some of the "live karaoke" performances were better than others and leave it at that. If you ask me if it was my favorite Wilco show ever, or one of them, I would have to say no if I'm being completely honest. But I will say that I — as Jeff also remarked before the karaoke portion of the set started — certainly admired the courage of all the singers to get up there before a big crowd and let it rip. I thought that each of them seemed to approach the task very earnestly and gave it their best, and it made for an interesting show. And moreover, it seemed like Jeff and the rest of the band were really enjoying themselves and having fun with the whole thing and that was great to see.I won't really get into trying to assess each individual fan's performance, except to say that Bailey's rendition of Daniel Johnston's classic True Love Will Find You In The End received high marks from more than a couple of folks around me and I personally thought Kevin nailed Say You Miss Me. But there were a few slip-ups, generally speaking, and those usually involved the singer coming in a beat or two early. Turns out singing Wilco songs is tougher than it looks, even when you have the lyrics right in front of you! (Though Jeff poked fun at his own expense more than once, joking at one point that after some short rehearsals with the various vocalists earlier in the day he came away thinking that "Wilco needs a singer." )In terms of the so-called "ringers" who joined in on the live karaoke fun to close out the main set, they provided arguably both the highlight and lowlight of the show. The former came when Courtney Barnett (who had played an excellent hour-long set with her band on the Joe's Field stage before Wilco came on) and performed what she has acknowledged in interviews as her favorite Wilco song, Handshake Drugs. Strapping her red guitar on, Barnett not only put her own spin on the song by changing the phrasing of the lyrics to fit her own vocal style but also engaged in a visceral closing feedback collaboration with Nels (while Jeff never took his acoustic guitar off while watching admiringly).Unfortunately a couple songs earlier, Nels' wife Yuka C. Honda and another singer whom Jeff identified as "Catherine, a friend of the band from Los Angeles" (I think it might have been Catherine Popper, but I didn't have a great view, so I'm not 100 percent sure about that) [edit: it was not Popper apparently, but just a friend of Honda’s] struggled through the Wilco Schmilco track We Aren't The World (Safety Girl). It's a hard song to sing anyway, with a lot of tricky rhythms and cues, and the two women kind of lost their way about halfway through. I don't know how much they actually got to rehearse beforehand, but the performance came off as a bit of a mess.Not that it would have necessarily helped on We Aren't The World, but one issue was that some of the lyrics displayed on a big screen at the back of the stage for the audience to see and sing along with (presumably what was also on the video monitors at the singers' feet) were just outright incorrect. Sometimes a line or two at the end of a song wasn't included, and other times the lyrics were just wrong. On What Light, for example, the displayed lyric in the second verse was "...don't let anyone change you back," when the actual lyric is "...don't let anyone change your bag." On Jesus, etc., the displayed lyrics apparently read "Voices cry..." instead of "Voices whine..." in the final verse. (On that song, Jeff also often varies from the "official" lyric by singing "I'll stick around" instead of "I'll be around" in the first verse). "I think I just learned the words to that song," Jeff deadpanned afterward. "Is it really 'Voices cry' and not 'whine?' Don't trust the internet." After What Light, Jeff had to give a slight chuckle before admitting, "We didn't have time to vet all the lyrics. ... Hopefully the next (song) will be right."It was all in good fun, though, even if some would have almost certainly preferred Wilco to simply play two shows with a minimum of repeated songs like they have done in Knoxville, Tenn., Brussels and Amsterdam since their comeback earlier this month. I do know that this karaoke format was something the band wanted to try, and as mentioned earlier, they all seemed to be having a lot of fun backing the assorted singers. Jeff seemed to be enjoying himself as much as anyone, and I know there have been times in the past when it seems like he would rather just play guitar on a song and have someone else sing it. Anyway, I suppose we can let the debates over live karaoke continue. But for this evening, here was the complete setlist as played (Jeff only introduced the karaoke singers by first name and hometown, so I'll simply report those as best I can; apologies in advance for any spelling errors, etc. [edit: apparently, A Magazine Called Sunset was on the printed setlist in the second encore between What Light and The Late Greats, but wasn't played. That it wasn't one of the karaoke songs was a bit surprising in light of this article about the only local karaoker):Random Name GeneratorHummingbirdIf I Ever Was A ChildCry All DayI Must Be HighBorn AloneMisunderstoodNothing'severgonnastandinmyway(again) (Darlie from North Adams, Mass., on lead vocals)Heavy Metal Drummer (Aidan from Albany, N.Y., on lead vocals)I'm The Man Who Loves You (Brad from Dallas, Tex., on lead vocals and acoustic guitar)Poor Places (Henry from Eliot, Me., on lead vocals and acoustic guitar)Hate It Here (Courtney from Albany, N.Y., on lead vocals)Wishful Thinking (Alex from Oberlin, Ohio, on lead vocals)Say You Miss Me (Kevin from Rochester, N.Y., on lead vocals and acoustic guitar)True Love Will Find You In The End [Daniel Johnston] (Bailey from South Bend, Ind., on lead vocals)Dawned On Me (John from Chicago, Ill., on lead vocals)Monday (Eben from Brattleboro, Vt., on lead vocals)We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) (Yuka C. Honda and Catherine (?) on lead vocals)I'm Always In Love (Sammy Tweedy on lead vocals)Handshake Drugs (Courtney Barnett on lead vocals and electric guitar)------------------------------------------Jesus, etc.Outta Mind (Outta Sight)California Stars (Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart of Ohmme and Liam Kazar on lead vocals)------------------------------------------What LightThe Late Greats Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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