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Wilco — 15 October 2021, Napa, CA (Oxbow RiverStage)

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[A bit of slacking on my part as we reach the pivot point of this West Coast run. Only eight more shows to go. Apologies, Tatlock, and other faithful readers for not having copy ready for morning coffee or afternoon tea time. :coffee]


Here's a new twist on that old tertiary-market thing that I hadn't thought of before tonight: Can a place be a tertiary market if most of the people who attend a given show there aren't even from there? That's one I'll have to give a little more thought to, I suppose, not to mention the simpler question of whether Napa even qualifies as a tertiary market at all vis-à-vis San Francisco or Sacramento, or if it's just a slightly far-off suburb of said metropolises.


Personally, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a show in a place probably known more these days for wine and culinary arts than anything else. It certainly seems like a tourist destination, judging by the steady stream of people eating and drinking and walking around at the various establishments in the afternoon. In any case, we sort of learned the crowd makeup at the Oxbow RiverStage — an interesting outdoor amphitheater of sorts in downtown Napa that is sort of a cross between a park and a street festival setup — fairly early on in the show when Jeff decided to take an unscientific survey of the attendees.


"How many of you are from Napa?" he asked. Smattering of applause. Then, "How many of you are from other points?" Significantly larger response. "That's what I thought," Jeff concluded. "Let's be good guests to the Napa natives."


Whether those of us from points elsewhere succeeded in that is debatable, I suppose, but the show was actually pretty fun overall. There were plenty of familiar faces planted along the rail on the non-VIP side, so it was nice to see a lot of folks from the general NorCal area turn out, whether or not they were actually from Napa. And most everyone seemed to enjoy themselves pretty well as this next California-centric leg of the Ode To Joy tour got underway on a lovely, clear evening with a relaxed opening set by Atlanta-based Faye Webster and her band followed by a solid 1-hour, 53-minute outing by Jeff and Co.


If Napa got a slightly abridged version of the Wilco "show" — with no video screen for background projections or "soapsuds" video, for example, or "The End"-like intro to Heavy Metal Drummer — then at least we got a bit more of what my friend termed a "pastoral" setlist with the inclusion of Company In My Back (bugs!), Either Way (sun!), Side With The Seeds (seeds!) and the requisite California Stars (stars!). Sure, the band might have decided not to precede Art Of Almost with I Am Trying To Break Your Heart as usual, which was sort of jarring, but it also once again took us on an exhilarating journey whose ending wasn't entirely certain during Laminated Cat. And even if Poor Places and Reservations got cut from the end of the main set, probably due to time, at least we still got a version of the "rock songs, etc." encore with Red-Eyed and Blue>I Got You (At The End Of The Century) followed by a slightly surprising I'm A Wheel to conclude the evening on an upbeat note.


The most amusing moment might have come at the end of Forget The Flowers when Glenn finally got in sync with Jeff on the Green Acres-like ending that they had been joking around about for much of the Pacific Northwest run. With a semi-smirk on his face, Glenn went for and nailed it tonight, leading Jeff to immediately quip, "That's the last time you'll ever hear that ending." Then a song later, Jeff shared that when he had made the comment about it being the last time for that ending, Nels had said, "I hope so," which the guitarist didn't deny. Jeff looked at him, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess you must not be a Green Acres fan."


Visits to Banter Corner were relatively limited, though Jeff did have a little fun with the divided sections of the crowd after Jesus, etc., when there was some kind of hubbub that led to a big cheer going up from the VIP section to his right. Jeff looked over briefly and asked what was going on over there and then turned to the non-VIP side on his left and asked the people there what was wrong with them (since they weren't cheering as enthusiastically). Finally he said, "I don't want to pit you guys against each other. I don't want to start a class war."


That was about it for repartée with the crowd, except for thanking Faye Webster and her band on a couple separate occasions and also joking as he sometimes does about how he always introduces Box Full Of Letters as being a song from their first album and wondering why he feels compelled to do that. Who knows if Jeff deliberately puts that song and Ode To Joy track Everyone Hides back-to-back in the setlist most nights to give himself an opportunity to comment about the former being one of their earliest songs and then the latter being one of their most recent, but it seems plausible, right? Anyway, I thought Box was especially fun tonight because Pat seemed to have a little extra juice than usual throughout the whole show (despite his lack of windmills on I'm A Wheel).


One last bit of banter came kind of out of nowhere from Jeff as he was leaving the stage for the final time. He waved goodbye, then left the crowd with this thought: "That was not a swing," which was obviously a reference to the controversial ending of the previous night's winner-take-all baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers but which I didn't even pick up on for a few seconds because it was so out of — forgive the pun — left field. Obviously more than a few people did get it right away and it became one final bit of Jeff currying favor with the NorCal crowd since I guess wherever you're from up here, Napa or elsewhere, there's probably a good chance you love Los Gigantes.


Here was the complete setlist, as played (as mentioned, according to the printed setlist, it appears that Poor Places and Reservations were cut at the end of the main set):


A Shot In The Arm

Random Name Generator

Side With The Seeds

One And A Half Stars

Art Of Almost

If I Ever Was A Child

Via Chicago

Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season)

Either Way

Company In My Back

Impossible Germany

Forget The Flowers


Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Box Full Of Letters

Everyone Hides

Dawned On Me

Jesus, etc.


Heavy Metal Drummer>

I'm The Man Who Loves You

California Stars


Red-Eyed And Blue>

I Got You (At The End Of The Century)

I'm A Wheel

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Thanks for the list.  I was there and missed what it was about the ending of Forget the Flowers that prompted Jeff to say that ending wouldn't happen again, to which Nels replied, "I hope not."  Jeff said Nels must not be a Green Acres fan.  It was really great to see Jeff do his old Hummingbird jog-dance.

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