bböp Posted August 21, 2021 Share Posted August 21, 2021 It's funny, I've never really thought of Merriweather Post Pavilion as a "legendary" venue along the lines of Red Rocks or the Hollywood Bowl or places like that. I'm sure that's probably sacrilegious to those in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, but even when I lived on the East Coast, I just always sort of thought of it as another in a series of sheds from Maine to Florida that bands eventually play if they reach a certain level. But hey, not every shed gets a landmark album named after it and I recently met someone who told me that they were at this mythical concert back in 1969. And heck, the place is even noteworthy enough to prompt a visit by esteemed VCer nalafej — good to see you — so what do I know? k Since I'd last visited the sprawling 54-year-old amphitheater, which may have been one of the places to establish what we think of as the modern shed setup (pit/seating/lawn), the place has gotten something of a facelift with a sturdy-looking roof and concrete balcony structure installed over the pit and seating areas that reminded me of another DC-area venue, Wolf Trap. Fortunately, MPP is big enough and/or the show not sold out enough that there seemed to be enough room for pretty much everyone to space out, watch the concert from where they wanted and still get a decent view — no small thing in these crazy Covid times. The unfortunate thing, at least personally, was that because of the nature of the venue, the location of the speakers and other acoustic factors, being up front — at least if you weren't right in front of one of the "fill" monitors facing outward from the stage — probably wasn't the ideal spot to take in the show. I guess that's almost always true at any venue, that you sacrifice sound quality by being closer to the stage, but for me it was especially pronounced tonight. I'm sure the bands all sounded amazing from, say, 10 rows back in the seats or at the front of the lawn, but it was honestly a bit muddy for me and that did detract a little bit from my enjoyment, I must admit. Then again, being closer to the stage also brings with it some advantages, and I have to give kudos to a few of the folks I was standing next to, who were just super enthusiastic for everything from Nnamdi's opening set (which keeps getting better and better, by the way) to Sleater-Kinney's energetic escapades to Wilco's sturdy headlining act. When you've seen a few shows on a run, especially when the setlists are pretty similar night to night, it's nice to be able to get — dare I say it? — a shot in the arm of excitement and perspective from other people. As for Wilco's performance, when a security guard came by early on in the evening and showed the set times on his phone with Jeff and Co. slated for 9:30-10:45 p.m., I was hoping the set wouldn't be rushed even more than usual because of some random curfew. I guess I wasn't the only one for whom the night was flying by, because it seemed like the band had barely gotten warmed up when Jeff glanced over at the ever-present clock at the side of the stage around 10:30 and announced that, "We're getting close to running out of time, so we're just gonna try to play as many songs as we can." Fortunately, the show wound up reaching a satisfactory conclusion at 11 without feeling too rushed and we even got a three-song encore! Three whole songs, can you imagine? I mean, it's hardly the days of two or three encores with as many as eight or 10 total tunes, but hey, Covid. We take what we can get, right? On this night, what we got was the tour debut of You Are My Face (excellent to hear that one again), a decent dose of Ode To Joy (Jeff repeated the joke he's been making about how that album "came out just in time for all the joy") as well as a somewhat surprise Outtasite (Outta Mind) (which utterly delighted the very earnest fan to my left, who had really, really been hoping to hear that one). Also of note was the continuing development of what I guess we'll call "The End" version of Heavy Metal Drummer with Jeff essentially doing a laconic spoken-word intro to the song for about 30 seconds as his bandmates kind of filled in with some light psychedelic jams underneath before launching into the full version of the song (with Glenn actually playing the sample from the recorded version). Overall the band seemed to be in pretty good spirits as the back half of the tour winds down — six shows left for that hoped-for collab with Sleater-Kinney, but who's counting? — and Jeff noted in the encore "that we always have such a good time here." Jeff and Nels even had kind of a sweet little moment during The Late Greats when Jeff went over and briefly hugged Nels as he was holding a note during the middle section, and there were a lot of smiles all around. I was thinking that it can't necessarily be easy to do this tour, with the bands and crews being in relatively tight bubbles and not able to visit with guests, see friends or do things they might ordinarily otherwise do. Add to that some of the wild weather challenges and scheduling issues and other things that we probably aren't even aware of, well, you know that this probably isn't your run-of-the-mill run of shows. So I just have to say kudos to everyone involved for enduring and making it happen and giving those of us in the audience at least some semblance of normality. About seven songs in, Jeff asked how many people were having their first live-music experience back at this show and he seemed touched that there were so many affirmative responses. "It's an honor," he said. "Thanks for letting us entertain you. It really means a lot." And after another remarkable Nels solo on Impossible Germany, Jeff chimed in, "I don't know about you, but I missed that." For as much as we might nitpick things on this forum and elsewhere, I think we all did. And I just really hope that we won't have to miss it again anytime soon. Here was Wilco's complete setlist, as played (didn't get a look at the printed list, so can't say if there were any changes/omissions): A Shot In The Arm Random Name Generator Before Us You Are My Face I Am Trying To Break Your Heart> Art Of Almost If I Ever Was A Child Impossible Germany Love Is Everywhere (Beware) Box Full Of Letters Hummingbird Everyone Hides Born Alone Jesus, etc. Theologians I'm The Man Who Loves You Heavy Metal Drummer I'm Always In Love ---------------------------------------------- The Late Greats Outtasite (Outta Mind) California Stars And for anyone who cares, here was Sleater-Kinney's setlist: High In The Grass Hurry On Home A New Wave Shadow Town The Fox Can I Go On Path Of Wellness Price Tag Down The Line Bury Our Friends Jumpers Bring Mercy Modern Girl Surface Envy Worry With You One Beat> Entertain 1 1 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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