bböp Posted September 17, 2021 Share Posted September 17, 2021 On an otherwise bucolic late-summer evening in the heartland, it was a bit jarring to pull up to the entrance to Water Works Park tonight and see a small group of anti-vaccine protesters milling about. They were hardly menacing, and maybe this is a fairly common, ho-hum sight in town, but nevertheless it was a reminder to this visitor that the Covid-19 pandemic and the societal rifts it has caused are far from over and that we still have a long way to go to get back to so-called "normalcy" (if we ever will). In a nod to co-headlining band Trampled By Turtles, one protester held a simple sign that read "Trampled By Tyranny." Though I didn't see any Wilco-referencing signs, obviously the protest — and that comment in particular — didn't escape notice by either band. In one of his few visits to Banter Corner during Wilco's set, Jeff took a moment just before starting Hummingbird to ask the audience in all seriousness, "Is wearing a mask an act of tyranny or an act of love?" Thank goodness the overwhelming response that came back seemed to be the latter. Man, the one night we could have really used one of theashtraysays' patented signs...amirite? Speaking of that, though, even though our favorite monomaniac — I've been wanting to use that word forever! — wasn't in attendance, we did get his beloved Bull Black Nova as part of Wilco's set and since I wasn't there a couple of shows ago when the band dusted it off, it was very nice to hear it again. And that song and its immediate follower Forget The Flowers — I believe the first live performance of that number since touring resumed last month — represented a mini-setlist shakeup at least by the standards of these relatively compact 90-minute outings. Perhaps Jeff threw us a little bone because he knew that the set as a whole was likely to feel a bit rushed, and indeed when Jeff made his usual "we're running out of time" comment late in the show, I glanced over at the ever-present glowing red clock at stage right and was surprised to find there were only a few minutes left before the 10 p.m. curfew and started calculating how many more songs the band was going to be able to squeeze in. Jeff didn't even have to go around and tell his bandmates they weren't going to go off stage for the traditional encore break, nor did he have time to engage in much playfulness like "The End"-style prelude to Heavy Metal Drummer that has often provided some levity during the "This Was Supposed To Happen In 2020" tour. "How's everyone doing?" Jeff asked the Iowa crowd at one point. "Glad we had that moment to check in." (Jeff did curry favor with the locals and the old-school fans prior to Box Full Of Letters by referencing the historic Iowa City haunt Gabe's Oasis, where Uncle Tupelo and Wilco both played in the early-to-mid 90s. But I must say...no mention of the Val Air Ballroom, which is actually in Des Moines?) Of course, the not-going off-stage-for-an-encore timesaver trick nearly got negated by the time it took to get all six Trampled By Turtles band members with all of their instruments back on stage for the final song of the evening, California Stars. It was nice to see the bands collaborate, though, and despite the fact that none of the TBTs apparently was prepared to take a turn on vocals — Jeff went over to their side of the stage during the song and appeared to ask if anyone wanted to sing a verse and the ensuing reaction resembled some deer caught in the headlights — the variety of the instrumentation, including mandolin, fiddle, cello and another banjitar (More Banjitar!) was welcome. Probably Jeff's best visit to Banter Corner came after Impossible Germany, during which Nels had broken a string and eventually had to switch guitars near the end of the song. It has happened before, though it's still a pretty rare occurrence. Jeff, however, couldn't resist embarrassing Nels just a little bit. "I don't remember you (breaking) a string on that before," Jeff deadpanned in the direction of his lead guitarist. "Maybe you should try to cool it down next time. Don't play so hard. Strings don't grow on trees, Nels." Jeff and Nels also had a little bit of a sweet moment that probably few noticed very early on, during Random Name Generator. Jeff went over to Nels as he sometimes does during the guitar interlude in that song and the two had a short bit of playing side-by-side in unison, but then Nels went for the back-to-back move that they used to do and Jeff didn't realize it and sort of stepped away but then realized what Nels had been going for and came back for a second. Like I said, almost no one would make anything of that but having seen their interactions over the years, trust me, it was a minor but endearing thing to see. That was pretty much all she wrote in terms of noteworthy events. As I mentioned, these 90-minute slots don't really allow much time for much in the way of leisurely pacing. It's a challenge, probably, just to get through the bulk of a set. Not that I'm complaining — it's been nice just to see the band together again — but as someone who's seen more than his fair share of shows, I just know that there's so much more in the tank than what they can deliver in these relatively shortened sets. Here was Wilco's complete setlist, as played, for this first of three co-headlining shows with Trampled By Turtles (didn't get a look at the printed list, so can't say if there were any changes or omissions): A Shot In The Arm Random Name Generator At Least That's What You Said I Am Trying To Break Your Heart> Art Of Almost If I Ever Was A Child Via Chicago Bull Black Nova Forget The Flowers Impossible Germany Love Is Everywhere (Beware) Hummingbird Everyone Hides Box Full Of Letters Dawned On Me Jesus, etc. Heavy Metal Drummer> I'm The Man Who Loves You California Stars (w/Trampled By Turtles full band on instruments only) 2 1 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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