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Wilco — 27 October 2019, Austin, TX (ACL Live at the Moody Theater) [Night 2 of 2]

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If a Wilco show happens in Austin and I don’t write about it for a week, does anyone other than Albert Tatlock (or one or two of his lovably psychotic brethren) give a rat’s ass? Well that’s what we’re attempting to discern here, folks, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whose breath might have been bated whilst waiting for this glorious prose.


So despite my head still spinning at how quickly seven days can seemingly pass by, if I might rewind to this time last week, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one still shaking off the cobwebs from the second night of a back-to-back Wilco stand at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Though Night 2 was still naturally heavy on songs from Ode To Joy — only An Empty Corner of the OTJ songs that have been performed live so far wasn’t played on Night 2 — of the remaining 21 songs in the set, 12 were different from Night 1 if I’m not mistaken. I’d say that’s a pretty nice ratio overall. :thumbup


From a musical standpoint, of course it was moving to hear the band start the encore with True Love Will Find You In The End. It honestly had slipped my mind that this would be the first time Jeff and his bandmates would be playing in Austin since the passing of Daniel Johnston, so of course it made sense that they would acknowledge the local legend at some point (and though Jeff didn’t actually say anything about it, he didn’t have to). Wilco had played True Love just once previously on this tour, in Berlin in September, on the day Daniel’s death was announced.


Other musical highlights, from my vantage point anyway, included Laminated Cat, which took the setlist spot of Bull Black Nova and continued to be reinvented by the band. Instead of bringing the outro jam to a frenetic, noisy crescendo as they had been doing, Jeff and Co. actually went in a different direction on this occasion and gradually faded it out. That song kicked off a run of guitar-heavy tunes, sandwiched around Reservations and leading up to Impossible Germany, that you could argue represented the apex of the show. :rock


I would also be remiss not to at least mention the reprise of the duet on You And I between Jeff and support act Molly Sarlé, with whom you could tell Jeff really loved singing. In the end, that duet only happened three times on this run but whatever you think of the song, hopefully it won’t be the last time we get to hear Jeff and Molly sing together on stage.


From a Banter Corner standpoint, Jeff had a few good visits. Almost right away, someone in the crowd remarked that Jeff “looked funny without a beard.” (Jeff had come out completely devoid of facial hair on Night 1, apparently in preparation for an appearance with Mavis Staples at this week’s Obama Summit.) Anyway, Jeff sarcastically thanked the guy for ruining the show by making him self-conscious. Then another guy — ahem — loudly informed Jeff that he looked “amazing,” which caused Jeff to jokingly introduce him as Kevin. “He’s our life coach,” Jeff quipped.


And Jeff had an even funnier quip a little later, which I have to admit I don’t really remember what prompted it but I think might have come from another audience comment, this one complimenting White Wooden Cross. For some reason, Jeff went off on a tangent. “Don’t say I love what you’re trying to do up there (on stage),” he said. “If you’re in a band and somebody says that to you, your set sucked.”


Another funny moment came when the band played Hesitating Beauty, which Jeff cryptically revealed to have been requested by one person who “has that power over us.” Of course, that was the one song during which Jeff had a significant flub, causing him to give a funny look over at John at one point when he realized they were singing different things. Afterward, Jeff joked, “We’re gonna play that again in a couple months (when we) remember most of it.”


Once again, Jeff prefaced the final two songs of the main set by saying the audience should consider them to be an encore of sorts. That always prompts a huge cheer after Jeff says to imagine the band had just gone off stage and come back. But on Night 2, Jeff couldn’t resist mentioning how someone the previous evening had accused him of not being honest when he introduced Hold Me Anyway as “a song we specifically wrote for this occasion.” “Somebody called me a liar last night,” Jeff deadpanned. “He’s dead now. I had to kill him.” :lol


In the end, I think when I remember this show I’ll remember the connections — between Jeff and the audience, between Jeff and his bandmates, between the rest of the band and the audience and each other. There was just a lot of bonhomie in that room that night, and something tells me that a significant portion of the folks in the first couple of rows felt some kind of direct connection with the band at some point during the show, whether it was just a moment of eye contact or a quick smile or even quietly being asked if you needed a drink... ;) 


Before leaving the stage for good, Jeff reiterated how much the band loves playing in Austin and I think it’s probably safe to say that the feeling was mutual. When you combine the band’s history in town, the quality venue, the devoted audience (composed of plenty of locals as well as folks from all over the country), how could things really go too wrong? :dance


Here was the complete setlist, as played (An Empty Corner was actually listed on the printed list as the first song of the encore, but was not played):


Bright Leaves

Before Us

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

One Wing

One and a Half Stars

Handshake Drugs


Shouldn't Be Ashamed

You And I (w/Molly Sarlé on vocals)

White Wooden Cross

Via Chicago

How To Fight Loneliness

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Random Name Generator


We Were Lucky

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc.

Hesitating Beauty

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Hold Me Anyway



True Love Will Find You In The End [Daniel Johnston]

I'm Always In Love

I'm A Wheel

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Thanks, as always, bbop! 


Wow, this was approximately my 8th Wilco concert since 2011, and they are in outstanding form.   Glenn was really rocking it on Via Chicago and all night on both new songs from Ode to Joy and old standards, and the whole band really has juiced up Laminated Cat and I'm Always in Love,  with the rock gods smiling the whole way! Jeff was top notch on his solos, Pat and John were smoking, and Nels was kicking television and butt throughout the night, both on his solos, but also on small riffs throughout all the genres and mixes of songs.   They all looked so happy (maybe because of a week off break to come), but hopefully because Austin provides such great feedback to this awesome set of musicians.   Hopefully a Roadcase set someday (please)!

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