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Wilco — 21 January 2020, Riviera Maya, Mexico (Hard Rock Hotel) [Sky Blue Sky Festival; Day 4 of 4]

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I was all prepared to write about how there's always a little bit of anti-climax leading into the final night of a multi-night Wilco run, especially one with no repeated songs, because you can usually figure out about half the setlist based on what's already been played at the previous shows. But then an older gentleman in the audience apparently fell and hit his head following the first song of the encore and the ensuing medical response brought the show to a complete halt for approximately 10 minutes as the band left the stage so the man could be attended to.

 

When Jeff and his bandmates did return to finish out the last of three unique sets at the inaugural Sky Blue Sky Festival, they did about as well as they could to pick up where they had awkwardly left off (though it was probably impossible to fully accomplish that). For his part, Jeff half-jokingly instructed anyone documenting the performance to place the last three songs of the show directly after Outtasite (Outta Mind) in the final edit.

 

If only it was that easy in real life, but certainly the band's complete embrace of the "Wilco Sleepover" theme night for this final show helped to make for a memorable evening despite the slightly strange ending. For I'm pretty sure just the second time in their 15-plus years together — the first having been the New Year's Eve show at Madison Square Garden in 2004 — this current six-piece lineup of Wilco played a show in pajamas. Well, the band members at least all came out wearing PJs and then some gradually shed pieces of them as the show went on, but it was still quite a sight to see — especially Jeff in his white flannel two-piece, with fittingly rumpled hair. (The rest of the band wore matching cobalt blue-with-white-trim outfits, with Pat initially sporting a bathrobe over his and John just wearing a pajama top...with, ahem, jeans.)

 

"These are not actually our PJs," Jeff said about five songs in, following One Wing. "We all sleep in the nude. No, that's not allowed." (The sleepover/pajama theme, by the way, was ostensibly meant primarily for the audience, many of whom were also sporting PJs, including a few folks with some fantastic custom bottoms that had Jeff's head included as part of several different patterns.)

 

Themes and outfits aside, this final Wilco set of SBS was a continuation of the first two in which we got several relative rarities not performed by the full band since BTH (Before The Hiatus), including the show-opening When You Wake Up Feeling Old, the John-sung It's Just That Simple and perhaps most satisfyingly — to some, anyway — the intense Cold Slope>King Of You pairing. Since you pretty much knew staples such as Impossible Germany, Via Chicago and California Stars were coming in this set since they hadn't been played yet at SBS, those rarities helped to keep the set feeling fresh and exciting.

 

California Stars also got an extra boost from Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick, who turned in the only guest appearance of the show when he emerged in a bathrobe to play shaker and maracas next to Glenn. After the song, during which Pat's banjitar solo always draws a huge ovation, Jeff said to Pat with a smile, "We're gonna have to make a banjo record." That once again drew "Pat! Pat! Pat!" chants from the crowd, which of course he played off to full effect.

 

True to the implied promise of the band's setlists for its first two shows, it did not repeat a single song over the course of three sets (resulting in 76 unique songs over the three performances). However, I do wonder if Jeff's struggles with Airline To Heaven at a solo beach set the day before for a small group of fans who had engaged in some service projects for the Positive Legacy non-profit that partners with festival organizers contributed to that song's inclusion in the final Wilco set of the festival. Jeff had said at the beach show that he personally didn't want to repeat a single song in any performance at SBS, so it was at least a mild surprise to hear Wilco play it. But for what it's worth, they nailed the full-band rendition.

 

Of course there were a few very minor letdowns, such as no reprise of the Wilco/Yo La Tengo collaboration that had taken place at the memorable 2013 Solid Sound and no nod to Wilco's only Spanish-language single, Me Avívé (aka Dawned On Me). Remember that one? In spite of the scary moment with the medical incident in back — and subsequent word was that the gentleman will be all right — when the band came back on stage to finish out the show with Candyfloss, I'm A Wheel and a spirited The Thanks I Get, it more than made up for any potential regrets one might have had.

 

From a Banter Corner standpoint, Jeff had less to say overall than the previous two sets. He once again couldn't help poking some fun at playing certain songs in this setting. "That song was made for the beach," he quipped about Reservations. A little later, he introduced An Empty Corner — which originated as a dream — by saying in part that "this whole (SBS) experience has felt dreamlike." And finally, just before the band left the stage for the final time, Jeff once again thanked the audience, saying in part, "You guys are the best...maybe we'll do this again sometime," which, in the end, seemed to be all that anyone who was there wanted to hear.

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for the final Wilco set of the inaugural SBS (there were no changes from the printed list):

 

When You Wake Up Feeling Old

Whole Love

Company In My Back

War On War

One Wing

I Might

Airline To Heaven

Via Chicago

Cold Slope>

King Of You

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Reservations

Impossible Germany

It's Just That Simple

California Stars (w/Eric Slick of Dr. Dog on shaker and maracas)

Summer Teeth

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

An Empty Corner

Say You Miss Me

Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

A Shot in the Arm

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

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Candyfloss

I'm A Wheel

The Thanks I Get

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And in case anyone cares, here was the complete set played by Yo La Tengo that preceded Wilco's performance:

 

Tom Courtenay

Green Arrow

From A Motel 6>

Mr. Tough

Ashes

Big Day Coming (acoustic)

I'll Be Around

For You Too

Autumn Sweater

Drug Test

Double Dare

Little Honda [The Hondells]

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

Griselda [Holy Modal Rounders}

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JamBase cares ...

 

It would be nice to park the thread until they miss their publishing deadline but that doesn't work in the internet age.

 

Was also wondering how messy the tequila tasting with John and Nels got?

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JamBase cares ...

 

It would be nice to park the thread until they miss their publishing deadline but that doesn't work in the internet age.

 

Was also wondering how messy the tequila tasting with John and Nels got?

 

JamBase sometimes cares, but only about the bust outs...you know how it goes. So thank you for being a loyal audience no matter how mediocre the material.

 

Re: the mezcal tasting, I only walked by briefly so can't truly attest — not to mention that the mezcal I've had in the past tasted like petrol to me — but I'm sure plenty of imbibing was done in my stead. Anyway, messiness is a decidedly relative thing at these sorts of all-inclusives.

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Thank you,Paul.

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I saw the incident with the gentleman falling and hitting his head hard on the concrete, it happened during A Shot In The Arm not after the encore, it just took Jeff a while to notice the commotion. He handled it very well when he did notice. I am happy to say the person's partner posted on the Sky Blue Sky Facebook group that he is doing ok and is going home today. I was really worried it was far more serious as it did not look good. But good news.

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And in case anyone cares, here was the complete set played by Yo La Tengo that preceded Wilco's performance:

 

Tom Courtenay

Green Arrow

From A Motel 6>

Mr. Tough

Ashes

Big Day Coming (acoustic)

I'll Be Around

For You Too

Autumn Sweater

Drug Test

Double Dare

Little Honda [The Hondells]

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

Griselda [Holy Modal Rounders}

 

Fantastic set list from YLT and I was especially psyched to hear "Drug Test"

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Fantastic set list from YLT and I was especially psyched to hear "Drug Test"

 

Glad we finally got to meet in person, Tim! Thanks for flagging me down. And yeah, I thought it was an excellent YLT set given they only had 75 minutes and were playing for a festival crowd.

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Glad we finally got to meet in person, Tim! Thanks for flagging me down. And yeah, I thought it was an excellent YLT set given they only had 75 minutes and were playing for a festival crowd.

likewise paul, great to put a face to the person who is relentless with the excellent show recaps! YLT nailed it... they totally grooved on my favorite period of their discography.

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likewise paul, great to put a face to the person who is relentless with the excellent show recaps! YLT nailed it... they totally grooved on my favorite period of their discography.

 

Look forward to reading your recap of SBS in due time (and seeing your photos, of course)! For what it's worth, I finally got around to finishing my blathering about the final night so anyone's who's interested can check it out above...

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California Stars also got an extra boost from Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick, who turned in the only guest appearance of the show when he emerged in a bathrobe to play shaker and maracas next to Glenn. After the song, during which Pat's banjitar solo always draws a huge ovation, Jeff said to Pat with a smile, "We're gonna have to make a banjo record." That once again drew "Pat! Pat! Pat!" chants from the crowd, which of course he played off to full effect.

 

Doooo it! Jeff has played the banjo in the past  first with Uncle Tupelo and IIRC Loose Fur as well, so it could have some dueling banjo action. 

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