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Wilco — 10 December 2023, México City, México (Frontón México)

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Originally Wilco's final show of 2023 was scheduled to be held at the Teatro Angela Peralta, a charming outdoor amphitheatre tucked into México City's Polanco neighborhood, but less than a week ago, ticketholders were notified that the concert would be changing venues due to "determinations made during a neighborhood assembly which have made impossible the carrying out of the event at the place previously designated" (if Google Translate is to be believed). Instead, the show would now take place at the Frontón México, an indoor multi-purpose facility about three miles away that hosts everything from trade expos to jai alai to concerts.


Not that the change probably mattered much from Wilco's perspective in terms of what songs the band chose to play on this last night of a busy touring year. It's not as if Jeff and Co. tweaked the setlist much because the show moved from outdoors to indoors. And anyway, I got the sense that the band could have done just about anything as long as they played Impossible Germany and a few of their "signature" tunes from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and other albums and this crowd would probably have been satisfied. It wasn't an audience demanding super deep cuts, in my estimation.


Although one gentleman next to me in the front row yelled a request for Company In My Back late in the set, and that let to one of Jeff's few extended comments of the night. "Ah, by now you probably realize we're getting toward the end and we're not gonna play every song," Jeff said. "I'm sorry. Because we have 800 of them. We're only gonna play 500."


Before I get too much further with this recap, I must take a moment and briefly mention the weird venue setup and crowd alignment. In changing from a venue that was sold with all or mostly reserved seating, I figured there was no way that they would be able to translate that to a different venue but actually they did an almost heroic job transferring the seat you originally bought to an equivalent seat in the new venue. Like, when you came it, there were people with spreadsheets that had your original seat in the old venue and what specific seat that corresponded to in the new one. So that was good. However, in the new venue, the seating was stadium style and set up on risers so it didn't seem to make it very easy for people to stand up during the show if they wanted to. In the end, only some in the front row ended up standing and only because there was room to stand at the foot of the first riser and not feel like they were blocking people, if that makes any sense.


So you had this weird dynamic of only part of the front row standing and everyone else sitting (albeit in stadium-style rows, so I guess everybody could see). But then there was also a four-foot aisle between the front row of people standing and the barricade that security was keeping clear so that traffic — mostly tireless two-man teams of beer vendors — could flow back and forth. Sorry for those of you who like to have the rail to lean on during shows...no rail for you! It was just an odd vibe in there from that standpoint. On the positive side, I can report that unlike in Guadalajara, there were several "fill" speakers along the front of the stage, so the sound was excellent in the front and seemingly everywhere in the room.


And that was a good thing, especially on some of the guitar workouts that probably characterized the show. Impossible Germany, in particular, was especially lively tonight, continuing Nels' recent trend of stretching the solo out a bit further. He ran the gamut from furious strumming to working the whammy bar to elegantly soaring crescendos in an effort that brought virtually the entire audience to its feet by the end of the song, bellowing "Olé, olé, ole´, Wilco," as Jeff pointed toward the lanky guitarist, who by then had already taken a seat on his stool as he prepared to play lap steel on the subsequent Jesus, etc. (on which the band was once again joined by Estrella Sanchez and Sebastian Neyra of support act Mint Field on vocals, reprising their performances from Guadalajara the other night).


There were a few minor hiccups, such as when Glenn's sample pad began acting up and feeding back early on in I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and drum tech Ashwin came out and unplugged it and simply took it away for a few songs, which of course resulted in a much less noisy ending than usual to IATTBYH. I wonder how many people in the audience really noticed. Likewise when Jeff flubbed a lyric late in If I Ever Was A Child — he didn't sing the "...or hold you too tight" part and I think realized it right after and glanced over at John — but otherwise didn't betray his minor slip-up, I'd bet not many in the crowd picked up on it.


Of course the show — and the touring year — was destined to end with one last run through Spiders (Kidsmoke). Jeff wasn't as visceral with his guitar shredding as he maybe has been at other shows, though he did emphatically scream the "There's no blood on my hands" lyric several times before the final breakdown. He urged on the audience by saying, "México City, we'll be back. Do you want to do this?" and trying to get everyone to stand and at least clap along. After pausing briefly to get everyone back together on the beat, much to Glenn's relief, Jeff even managed to get the somewhat reluctant audience to sing a few measures of "ba ba ba bas," before bringing the song to its natural conclusion.


In his only other comments beyond "muchos gracias” I haven’t already noted, Jeff mentioned earlier in the show how much he and his bandmates loved playing for the México City audience and noted how it had been three years since they had last been here — actually closer to four now — and he thanked everyone for inviting them back. Here's hoping it won't take another four years before the next time, if only to see what the next round of bootleg merch will bring…just kidding. ¡Sí, se puede! El Jefe (that’s Jeff).


Here was the complete setlist, as played (Falling Apart (Right Now) was on the printed setlist as the second song of the encore but wasn't played):


Infinite Surprise

Handshake Drugs


I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart


If I Ever Was A Child



Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull


How To Fight Loneliness

Impossible Germany

Jesus, etc. (with Estrella Sanchez and Sebastian Neyra of Mint Field on vocals)

The Late Greats

Dawned On Me

Heavy Metal Drummer

A Shot In The Arm


Via Chicago

California Stars

Spiders (Kidsmoke)

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