bböp Posted October 21, 2021 Share Posted October 21, 2021 [As a certain Scandinavian gent might say...this chattering section must now wait for some moments while the fellow who usually enters the informations puts head on pillow for some hours, and oh by the way, do not get feeling of Dancing Queen because you see Kidsmoke on menu of tunes because it was not most excitement version. Welfare!] I've got to say, of all the shows on this rescheduled/reconfigured Ode To Joy West Coast run, the one I probably had the lowest expectations for was tonight's engagement at the Santa Barbara Bowl. In August of 2007, I was but a wee lad when my friend and I trekked to the lovely central California coastal city to see Wilco on its Sky Blue Sky tour. Despite the complete lack of other people standing in our center orchestra section, we decided to go for it at some point early in the set. For about 30 minutes, or so it seemed, we stood our ground until the verbal assault from those behind us became too much to endure and we finally relented. This is what's known in the fan business as "getting shouted down." So I suppose I was interested, on a purely anthropological level, to see if anything had changed in the ensuing 14-plus years. The verdict? A little, but I'm afraid that I must report that the Bowl — a venerable outdoor amphitheater with a capacity of about 4,500 and a view of the Santa Ynez mountains — still is not a particularly good venue in which to properly experience Wilco. Unless, I guess, you're the type of people who are just dying to hear Jesus, etc., and then simply turn and walk out or who won't stop loudly chit-chatting through most of the show or who watch the majority of the show with their fingers in their ears (all of which I observed just in the seats right around me tonight). Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. And lest you think I was the only one who noticed the relative lack of energy in the audience, or the indifference or whatever it was, let me just say that it's pretty rare for Jeff to actually say something like he did about halfway through the set, after Hummingbird — which is practically designed to get people to come out of their shells a little bit. "I used to be really shy about asking people" to stand up or participate in the show, Jeff said. "But I have a responsibility up here to tell you not to postpone your happiness. Just fucking let it go. It's all right. What have you been doing for the past two years...that compares to (live music)?" Then he added, jokingly, "I think David Lee Roth said the exact same thing at the US Festival." Perhaps it was just that point in a tour where there was bound to be a "professional show" but certainly the vibe put out by a good portion of the Santa Barbara Bowl crowd helped make that a reality. I define professional show as one where if you were just seeing one show in a given tour, you would never know that the band was just sort of giving you the bare bones, but if you had been able to see a few different shows, you could definitely tell the difference. So for example, Jeff and his bandmates performed most of the songs you would expect if you were keeping track of setlists from this tour but the performance of them was completely different from, say, Night 1 in Oakland to tonight. Everything from Art Of Almost to Laminated Cat to Dawned On Me was just kind of played plainly, if that makes any sense. Actually, Dawned provided the other major visit to Banter Corner when Jeff stopped the song after a few bars and took it from the top after saying it "sounded really weird to me." After the song, Jeff said, almost to his bandmates, "I'm really surprised that hasn't happened more often, given that we start that song with no pitch center." He then added, to the audience, "Just to show you it's real up here. You're not watching a movie. It's not Netflix, and I know you all got to the end of Netflix (over the course of lockdown). It's over." The other evidence that this just wasn't going to be a show where the band was going to go above and beyond — since it wasn't really getting energy back from the majority of the crowd — came in the encore. It definitely was a bit of a surprise that the first song was Spiders (Kidsmoke), but as I commented to a friend in the immediate aftermath of the song, "That was the saddest Spiders ever!" If some of those legendary Brazilian shows a few years ago set the enthusiasm standard for this song — and I've been reminded of this by a certain Brazilian on more than several occasions — then this might have been the flipside of that. Jeff didn't even bother trying to get the "ba ba bas" going and there was sort of a brief, half-hearted clapping attempt made before he and his bandmates quickly brought the song to a conclusion. Then after The Late Greats, it was evident to everyone that there was at least one more song planned when the guitar techs brought out another round of guitars but Jeff simply decided that was enough, waved them off and waved good night. And before anyone says that a curfew might have been a factor, there clearly was enough time to play at least one more song even if the band had to finish by 10 p.m. After starting a few minutes early, they wound up playing 1 hour, 57 minutes, but were off by 9:54. The Bowl, even though it's an iconic venue, probably isn't the most ideal spot for a rock show, considering the curfew as well as almost certainly some kind of decibel cap on the sound system. The latter is understandable since the amphitheater is located in a residential area, but as far as Wilco concerts go, the sound definitely sounded a bit muted to this correspondent's ears (which makes that lady in the row in front of me with her fingers in her ears kind of inexplicable to me, but I'm trying to be kind). Since my experience at the Bowl nearly 15 years ago, I guess people have come around somewhat on the standing issue — there were pockets of standers all night in the sections closest to the stage — but standing alone does not an energetic show make. Rather, there has to be some kind of connection between the performers and audience and for whatever reason, it was apparent that Jeff and/or his bandmates weren't necessarily feeling it tonight. Even though Jeff did express several times how nice it was to be back and playing live again — "Concerts are good. Music, right?" he said at one point — I didn't get the sense he and most of the crowd were on the same page very often. "How's everyone doing?" Jeff asked a few songs into the show with the tone of a slightly annoyed college professor. "Quite a few of you were late for class. Just saying. Glad you're here now." I think, given these weird, pandemic times, Jeff and his bandmates are just happy to be able to do what they do again, and maybe even a little surprised that they've fortunately been able to continue without interruption so far. Whether or not the audience is genuinely with them — or just along for the ride — is kind of secondary. Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Santa Barbara (Heavy Metal Drummer was not on the printed setlist but was played, while I Got You (At The End Of The Century) was listed as the final song of the encore but got cut): A Shot In The Arm Random Name Generator Side With The Seeds One And A Half Stars War On War Art Of Almost If I Ever Was A Child Impossible Germany Sunken Treasure Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season) Love Is Everywhere (Beware) Hummingbird One By One Everyone Hides Box Full Of Letters Dawned On Me Jesus, etc. Theologians Heavy Metal Drummer I'm The Man Who Loves You California Stars ---------------------------------------------- Spiders (Kidsmoke) The Late Greats 2 1 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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