bböp Posted October 26, 2019 Share Posted October 26, 2019 It was hardly Joni Mitchell at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 telling a crowd to "give us some respect," but in his own way, that's what Jeff was asking for tonight at Houston's Revention Music Center when he expressed his feelings about a segment of the audience conflicted between being engaged by the performance they were attending and checking their phones for updates on how the hometown Astros were faring in Game 3 of the World Series. Almost from the first time Jeff addressed the audience, following Ode To Joy track One and a Half Stars, he decided to confront the proverbial elephant in the room. "I realize that at least a third of you are watching the game on your phones," Jeff said, half-jokingly. "Maybe a fifth of you." Then somebody near the front must have asked Jeff what the score was. "I don't know the score," Jeff quickly shot back. "Let's try to focus, everybody. Spoiler alert: Someone's gonna lose. I'm glad I addressed this. I think it was the right move; I stand by it." I'm not sure if anything specific set Jeff off, or if it was just the collective disengagement he observed in the people he could see in the first few rows, but things finally came to a head not long after his previous comment when he came clean with the crowd. I'm going to paraphrase here, but basically Jeff said it was difficult as a performer to perform when he could see people distracted and likened it to someone who keeps looking at their phone when you're trying to talk to them. He said that he knew people had paid good money to come to the show and that he wasn't telling them what to do, but "we're here to play for you and also to play with you." Added Jeff: "We're sensitive types." (Not too sensitive, however, to throw out a little zinger when someone — I think? — made a comment about how Wilco was better than a baseball game. "We're better than your first two games," Jeff quipped, referring to the favored Astros losing the first two games of the World Series to the Washington Nationals. Sick burn, as the kids say. ) There were certainly plenty of things you could nitpick apart from the the distracted folks in the front. Things like the lack of crowd energy during Laminated Cat, which I know is not even technically a Wilco song but which all but the most casual fans should know by now. Or the weird acoustics in the room that made Nels and Glenn sound almost muffled at times. Or the stand-up, sit-down dynamic early on, when people would sit for songs they didn't know, then stand for one they did, then sit down again. Or the dummy behind me who kept loudly and repeatedly yelling, "Play Kidsmoke!" between songs. Let's just say Houston on a Friday night didn't necessarily bring it in all the best possible ways, IMHO. And yet, probably unbeknownst to most of the crowd at the Revention — a 2,400-seat room that has changed names fairly frequently but where the band has played numerous times over the years — it was actually getting a better set than it probably deserved, including the tour debut of Shouldn't Be Ashamed, the rarely played (at least all together) trio of Bull Black Nova, Laminated Cat and Random Name Generator and the twangy two-fer of Forget The Flowers and California Stars. Not to mention the live debut of a lovely duet on You And I between Jeff and support act Molly Sarlé during the encore. Still, the distracted audience theme dominated Banter Corner. After Reservations, Jeff asked, "Are we friends again? I want you to be happy and I want your team to win. I want everybody's team to win. And I sometimes look at my phone when people are talking to me, too ... but not during a Wilco show." (For the record, the Astros did win, 4-1.) And a bit later, Jeff shared a brief anecdote about how Uncle Tupelo once played a show in Oxford, Miss., during a World Series when the Atlanta Braves were playing. "The entire audience turned the other way (to watch the game on the TV at the bar, presumably), so this is a big improvement," he said. "We've got some divided attention. It's OK. Let's play some older songs for you." By the time Jeff and his bandmates returned for the only real encore — despite Jeff continuing his recent trend of asking the crowd before the penultimate main-set song Hold Me Anyway to pretend the band had already gone off stage and come back on — all seemed to be forgiven. Perhaps spurred by the cool visual image of someone painting the word Wilco on a pane of glass that was part of the package of abstract art projections in use once again tonight, a decent chunk of the audience even took up a "Let's go, Wil-co!" chant that I think the band appreciated. As far as establishing a connection between performer and audience, I guess better late than never, right? Anyway, here was the complete setlist as played (there were several changes in the encore from the printed list, including the omissions of An Empty Corner, A Magazine Called Sunset (!) and Heavy Metal Drummer as well as the addition of the ultimately show-closing Outtasite (Outta Mind)): Bright LeavesBefore UsI Am Trying To Break Your HeartWar On WarOne and a Half StarsHandshake DrugsHummingbirdShouldn't Be AshamedWhite Wooden CrossVia ChicagoBull Black NovaLaminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)Random Name GeneratorReservationsWe Were LuckyLove Is Everywhere (Beware)Impossible GermanyForget The FlowersCalifornia StarsBox Full Of LettersEveryone HidesTheologiansI'm The Man Who Loves YouHold Me AnywayMisunderstood---------------------------------You And I (w/Molly Sarlé on vocals)The Late GreatsOuttasite (Outta Mind) Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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