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Wilco — 8 October 2021, Eugene, OR (McDonald Theatre)


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When you have the good fortune to see more than a few shows by a band, sometimes it becomes more about the micro than the macro. That is to say that the most delightful moments are smaller ones that perhaps many people wouldn't pay much attention to, or even notice, but that come to define a given gig in your mind. For me — and I realize this is almost certainly different for everyone, so as always take this with a grain of salt — these were a few of the moments that will stand out from tonight's performance at the relatively cozy McDonald Theatre:

 

  • Jeff breaking into a small, sheepish smile at himself for once again failing to change the lyric in Hummingbird from "the great southwest" to "the great northwest" despite his best intentions. "I'll get it right one of these nights," Jeff said afterward, noting that the band would be playing more than a few shows in the Pacific Northwest over the next several evenings. Then, sort of excusing himself in a way: "It's not part of the imagery of the song."
  • The "riff ending" at the end of Theologians, which I always secretly hope for but rarely happens. Who knows why Jeff ever decides to do it, or how the rest of the band (or at least Glenn) pick up on it when he does, but it's just a fun little micro moment. "We don't do that ending very often," Jeff said with a hint of sarcasm. "Eugene, I don't know if you know how lucky you are."
  • The little look Jeff gave Nels following a bit of an adventurous outro on Laminated Cat, which seemed to feature a bit of collective band improvisation toward the end of the song as they figured out how to bring it to an end.
  • Pat breaking into a wide grin during his Box Full Of Letters solo.
  • Glenn's small nod of recognition after a few of us applauded for him after his drumstick twirl in Heavy Metal Drummer.

 

Almost unbelievably, it had been more than 18 years since the full band had played at the McDonald — Jeff did a solo show there in 2005, but it was literally a different band when WIlco last graced the venue's stage in 2003 — so it had been a long time coming. This was the first of three shows in the Pacific Northwest that weren't originally on the schedule when the band's tour was scuttled due to the pandemic last year, and it seemed like most of the audience was grateful to have the opportunity to see them in a smallish, general-admission setting. (I don't know if that included the guy somewhere in the back or the balcony who was making seal-like(?) noises that caused Jeff at one point to quip, "This guy has seen us play all over the world. Someone give him a herring or something and tell him to shut the fuck up.")

 

From a setlist perspective, Eugene also benefitted somewhat from the previous show in Portland when the band opened up its repertoire a bit. So once again we got to hear several songs that Jeff and Co. really hadn't been playing since returning to the stage in August such as the aforementioned Laminated Cat, which he said "was for Halloween," as well as Muzzle Of Bees and the sublime main set-closing duo of Poor Places and Reservations. For whatever reason, I could really hear well the 12-string acoustic Jeff used on Reservations — which is a new development — as well as Glenn's brilliant percussion touches on that song tonight. (There were a couple weird little sound issues as well, like an odd buzz coming from Nels' pedalboard or amp right when he started his Impossible Germany solo, but it eventually went away.)

 

Following a short encore break, the band returned for a few more songs, including Heavy Metal Drummer with the extended "The End"-style intro that it has really started to get good at, because as Jeff explained, "It's Friday night, and we couldn't leave you all sad."

 

About the only other quibble I could make with the shows so far on this Western swing has been the absence of any collaboration with support act Young Fresh Fellows (who were especially zany and wonderful tonight...more later if I can make out my chicken scratch notes). Usually that sort of thing only happens on the final show of a band's run of shows with Wilco, which thankfully won't be for a few more nights yet, but surely we can accelerate that process a tiny bit to have Scott McCaughey, Kurt Bloch and Co. come back out and do something, can't we?

 

We shall see about that, but in the meantime, I'll continue to relish the smaller moments. And that's especially true when you have people to relish them with. It was nice to see so many familiar faces tonight in this little corner of the world — some expected, some unexpected. It really does touch something deep down when you feel like you're not alone, as one friend expressed to me afterward, and Jeff once again expressed his gratitude at seeing everyone at least in the front few rows wearing masks and doing what they needed to do to take care of each other and enabling the band to safely do what they do.

 

"I know it's fucking weird," he said of the mask-wearing and other safety protocols in effect, but I think we're all in agreement that we'd much rather deal with that than the alternative of having to lock down and isolate again. Right? Right.

 

Here was the complete setlist, as played (An Empty Corner was once again listed on the printed setlist as the first song of the encore, but wasn't played):

 

A Shot In The Arm

Random Name Generator

At Least That's What You Said

One And A Half Stars

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart>

Art Of Almost

Muzzle Of Bees

If I Ever Was A Child

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Impossible Germany

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Hummingbird

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

Jesus, etc.

Theologians

California Stars

Poor Places>

Reservations

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

The Late Greats

Heavy Metal Drummer

I'm The Man Who Loves You

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No one cares, but for the record here was the complete Young Fresh Fellows setlist as played for Eugene:

 

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Hillbilly Drummer Girl

The Guilty Ones

Go Blue Angels Go

Never Had It Bad

Mamie Dunn, Employee Of The Month

How Much About Last Night Do You Remember?

Hang Out Right

Gotta Get Away [The Rolling Stones]

The Teen Thing

Equator Blues

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7 hours ago, bböp said:

No one cares

 

 

Gotta Get Away [The Rolling Stones]

 

Au contraire mon brave, but only as much as it made me think of this rather than the Stones (which I didn't actually know):-

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OIzhiQf490

 

SLF probably in my top 10 punk/new wave bands.

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1 hour ago, Albert Tatlock said:

 

Au contraire mon brave, but only as much as it made me think of this rather than the Stones (which I didn't actually know):-

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OIzhiQf490

 

SLF probably in my top 10 punk/new wave bands.


Video content you linked to is apparently banned over here, but I am also a big SLF fan. #RigidDigits

 

The YFFs dedicated the Stones cover to Charlie Watts, of course. ❤️

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