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Wilco — 13 October 2019, Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn Steel)

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Finally getting a chance to sit down and put finger to keyboard in an attempt to recap this show which, as I stated earlier, is almost certainly a fool's errand since it's nearly two days later now and since anyone who cares enough to read whatever I come up with probably already watched/listened to the show themselves via the webcast (which, by the way, I heard was quite good after some initial sound issues).

 

So what's the point of adding any commentary at this point? I don't know, really. I guess maybe no matter how good a webcast is, it can't fully capture the dynamics of a particular room, so if there's anything I can focus in on, perhaps it's that. Brooklyn Steel is only about two and a half years old and it's sort of in a weird area east of Williamsburg, but there's a reason why the 1,800-capacity, general admission venue has quickly become a favorite in the New York area. It's just perfect for a band like Wilco, I think, and the connection between band and audience really made for a fun, loose performance.

 

(Incidentally, if I'm not mistaken, this was the first GA Wilco show in New York City in a little over seven years. The last one, at Terminal 5 on July 25, 2012, was arguably the band's best single show of that year, if you ask me. And that was a year when Wilco was on the road quite a bit. Anyway, do they even have shows at T5 anymore?)

 

But back to Brooklyn Steel, you could tell almost from the start that this was going to be a different type of show from Radio City Music Hall the night before. Jeff was much more engaged with the crowd from the outset, checking in relatively early on and telling people to "settle down" after a series of hoots and hollers. Then after an unexpected performance of You And I (during which he had a slightly weird delivery of the "when the words we use sometimes/are misconstrued" line), he quipped "that was a very heavily requested song this evening. Somebody dismissing the old experimental version of Wilco."

 

During the next song, Hummingbird, Jeff even took a local cue during the "in the deep chrome canyons of the loudest Manhattans/no one could hear him" lyric and gave a quick thumbs-down sign (#BrooklynRepresent). Afterward he said, "That was very, very nice singing. Thank you very much. You're making the audience last night look like a bunch of stiffs. I mean it was a nice place, I guess." And then after the next song, Someone To Lose, Jeff displayed his uncanny eagle eyes by complimenting my friend in the front row on her Gudetama iPhone case.

 

But easily Jeff's best single visit to Banter Corner came a bit later when after back-to-back songs from Ode To Joy, We Were Lucky and Love Is Everywhere (Beware), someone randomly yelled out, "Schmilco!" Jeff joked, "Schmilco? You're not up to date. One of the nice things about putting a new record out is people start saying nice things about your old records. Yeah, 'Schmilco's not so bad now, huh?'"

 

I guess I would also be remiss if I didn't mention yet another failed attempt by Jeff to get an audience to buy me a drink after he unfortunately once again called attention to my tiniest of appearances in the Everyone Hides video. I could sort of tell where he was going when he asked how many people had seen Wilco before, but fortunately he kept the "grief" relatively brief this time by saying the band hadn't paid me for my "work," so someone should buy me a beer. Like those cheapskates in Utrecht last month, however, no one did.

 

Much more importantly, though, the show from that point accelerated toward its gloriously rocking conclusion (with only OTJ closer An Empty Corner to start the encore providing any respite, and also establishing the new high water mark for OTJ songs performed in a single show at nine). Even without the abstract art projections that they have been using in bigger theaters, the excellent sound quality throughout made up for it from a production standpoint. And the mid-set run of tunes from Laminated Cat through Impossible Germany might have been even more enjoyable, in some ways, than the old "rock songs, etc." warhorse of an encore.

 

It might not have quite reached the transcendent level of that Terminal 5 show from a number of years ago, or certainly some of the crazy Irving Plaza gigs from the band's early days, but I can't say I've ever really heard Wilco play (from a musical standpoint) any better in New York. You can — and probably have already — see it all for yourself anytime you like. But I personally don't take it for granted to have had the good fortune to be able to stand in that room the other night and, for 2 hours and 20 minutes, get to watch a generous group of musicians do their thing and just take it all in with a group of like-minded folks. It's a genuine pleasure.

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (glimpsed a printed setlist and it looked like there were no changes):

 

Bright Leaves

Before Us

Company In My Back

War On War

One and a Half Stars

Handshake Drugs

You And I

Hummingbird

Someone To Lose

White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Random Name Generator

On And On And On

We Were Lucky

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Impossible Germany

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

I’m Always In Love

Heavy Metal Drummer

I’m The Man Who Loves You

Hold Me Anyway

Misunderstood

----------------------------------

An Empty Corner

Red-Eyed And Blue>

I Got You (At The End of the Century)>

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

I’m A Wheel

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Had a great time at Brooklyn Steel. I think we got a more relaxed Wilco compared to the previous night, but I suppose that's to be expected at a significantly smaller venue. Plenty of highlights, but how about this catch:

 

rcmJ0Tg.jpg

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Not sure why anyone would want to read my thoughts at this point, but I finally updated my initial post above...

 

Also, forgot to mention (and it was discussed in the Radio City thread) but I got a much better look at the black guitar Jeff has recently switched to for a number of the OTJ songs and it actually has a Western theme with some cool images of cowboys, horses and the like on it. Also, as someone else pointed out, it once featured the word “RODEO”, although the ‘R’ and ‘O’ have fittingly been blacked out to leave the word “ODE.”

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Had a blast at the show. Please let me know if anyone has an extra ticket stub? I usually get my tickets mailed, but wasn't able to for this show. I have plenty to trade if you're looking for something. Thanks in advance.

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Hey Bbop!  Thanks for taking the time to put out your thoughts.  I wasn't able to hear the webcast.  Even if I had, I would have been looking forward to your recap.  I'm not sure how large of a readership you have (numbers in the tens, perhaps?!?!) but we are loyal readers!

Seriously, thanks.  I do enjoy following along when Wilco is on the road.

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Also, forgot to mention (and it was discussed in the Radio City thread) but I got a much better look at the black guitar Jeff has recently switched to for a number of the OTJ songs and it actually has a Western theme with some cool images of cowboys, horses and the like on it. Also, as someone else pointed out, it once featured the word “RODEO”, although the ‘R’ and ‘O’ have fittingly been blacked out to leave the word “ODE.”

From the YouTube video, here's a comment about this guitar "@BONSAi it's 1938 Harmony "Rodeo" acoustic cowboy guitar"

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Hey Bbop! Thanks for taking the time to put out your thoughts. I wasn't able to hear the webcast. Even if I had, I would have been looking forward to your recap. I'm not sure how large of a readership you have (numbers in the tens, perhaps?!?!) but we are loyal readers!

Seriously, thanks. I do enjoy following along when Wilco is on the road.

Hey, thanks! Appreciate the kind words. As I’ve said before, glad my — let’s say couple dozen!?! — readers get something out of my blatherings. Makes doing them worthwhile.

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Hey, thanks! Appreciate the kind words. As I’ve said before, glad my — let’s say couple dozen!?! — readers get something out of my blatherings. Makes doing them worthwhile.

Did anyone buy you a beer in Brooklyn as your form

Of payment!?

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Nice recap, Paul! I always love reading your perspective on shows, even when I’m there myself. And I echo your gratitude for being able to share a room with like-minded folks and the world’s best band.

 

I think you might have more success with the beer thing if Jeff would make that request at a seated venue. It’s too difficult getting in and out at a GA show. Just a theory. In any case, I’ll happily buy you a beer before or after the show in Tulsa. Or Austin. Or St. Paul. Or...

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