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Wilco — 22 June 2024, New York, NY (Beacon Theatre) [Night 2 of 3]

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Given all the social media posts and various tributes of late, you might have expected Jeff to say something or at least somehow acknowledge today’s 20th anniversary of the release date of what more than a few people consider to be one of his band’s career-defining records, A Ghost Is Born. But in all the years I’ve been going to Wilco shows, I’ve rarely known Jeff to be sentimental — at least outwardly so — about things like specific anniversary dates for his own work, and I don’t think he’s about to start now.


So it wasn’t much of a surprise, then, that on the second night of a three-night run at the Beacon Theatre 20 years to the day when AGIB officially came out (and 20 years and a couple of weeks from a memorably sweaty show at Irving Plaza to celebrate said release), Jeff never made a single mention of the anniversary. Instead of looking back, among other things, he took the time to mention the birthday of a Wilcrew member, guitar/bass/keyboard tech Austin, and said Austin requested that everyone not sing “Happy Birthday” to him — which, of course, led to everyone singing “Happy Birthday” to him.


You could argue that even if Jeff didn’t say anything about AGIB, the setlist was geared to celebrate that album. But again, despite the inclusion of At Least That’s What You Said, Theologians and the show-closing I’m A Wheel, which weren’t played on Night 1, there wasn’t any unusual emphasis on the record than in an average set. As usual, Wilco mixed and matched songs from many of its records and swapped out a more-than-respectable amount of tunes played on Night 1 for others from its sizable catalog. By my count, 15 of the 24 songs played on Night 2 weren’t played on Night 1.


If anything, Jeff might have been slightly less chatty tonight than the previous evening (though he couldn’t help but comment on the presence of a guy in the front row who resembled an Empire Burlesque-era Bob Dylan. "You know who you are,” Jeff said. “We’re under a watchful gaze.”) Perhaps it was because the show was “flying by for me.” He even took a sip of whatever was in his water bottle at one point, saying he was trying to stay hydrated amid the heat wave roiling the Northeast this weekend (but which, as regular fans know, he almost never does because of his neurosis about having to pee if he drinks anything).


In one of his longer visits to Banter Corner, after Jesus, etc., Jeff apparently enjoyed the crowd’s participation compared with a night earlier. “Thanks for singing along,” Jeff said. “You really made that crowd last night sound like shit.” When Pat looked over at him with a sort-of mock scolding expression, Jeff continued, “I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.”


To be honest, I haven’t been particularly impressed by the crowds either night — at least in my general proximity. Is it just because most of the fanbase just got old? Or that in a fairly big venue like the Beacon, there are still seemingly so many casual fans and/or people who have been dragged along? Or is it just your typical New York crowd (i.e. a little too cool for school?) I guess it’s maybe some combination of the three, but sometimes I looked around and wondered why half of the people were even there. Sigh.


Anyway, none of that really seemed to have much effect on the band’s performance during a tidy 1-hour, 57-minute show. Jeff and Co. were having a good old time with one another on stage, with Jeff joking when Nels’ strapped on his gaudy white double-neck axe for Dawned On Me that Nels “wins that guitar every night” following his Impossible Germany solo. Nels then proceeded to start the song with by scraping the strings with a small spring he uses but then getting that spring tangled in the strings for a second and leaving it dangling there, which caused Glenn to crack up.


And then we got a variation of “the rock block” to close out, led by the always slightly weird, Red-Eyed-And-Blue-less I Got You (At The End Of The Century), which allowed Pat to do some modified post-birthday windmills and such. That encore probably also surprised the guy in the row behind me who was obviously looking at Setlist.fm and informing his companion that the encore was likely to feature Via Chicago, California Stars and Spiders. (Side note: Why do people do this? I suppose I understand the need to want to know what’s coming, but is Wilco the only band that occasionally changes their setlist? Does every band play the same encore every night? Sigh, pt. 2.)


As always with a run that’s more than two nights, it will be interesting to see how things change up again from Nights 1 and 2. I don’t necessarily expect any true “Deep Cuts” to come out now, not before Friday’s Solid Sound set, but I won’t be relying on Setlist.fm to make my predictions, either.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2 at the Beacon (there were no changes/omissions from the printed setlist):


Infinite Surprise

War On War

At Least That’s What You Said

Handshake Drugs

Random Name Generator

Side With The Seeds

I Am My Mother

Cruel Country

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Meant To Be

What Light



Bird Without A Tail/Base Of My Skull

Love Is Everywhere (Beware)

Box Full Of Letters

Jesus, etc.


Impossible Germany

Dawned On Me

A Shot In The Arm


I Got You (At The End Of The Century)>

Outtasite (Outta Mind)>

I’m A Wheel

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I have a different take about the crowd of both nights. I was sitting just a couple of rows behind and towards Pat from you on Friday. Everyone stood both nights. I had no talkers around me either night, no obnoxiously drunk people, and nobody who wasn't totally into the music. I had full enjoyment of the music. Both of which I fully enjoyed. 

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1 hour ago, worldrecordplayer said:

I have a different take about the crowd of both nights. I was sitting just a couple of rows behind and towards Pat from you on Friday. Everyone stood both nights. I had no talkers around me either night, no obnoxiously drunk people, and nobody who wasn't totally into the music. I had full enjoyment of the music. Both of which I fully enjoyed. 


Guess we just saw different things or had different expectations. While I didn't see any obnoxiously drunk folks or blatant talkers or anything of that sort, I saw a fair amount of what I would call blasé or disinterested-looking folks. There was a couple in front of me where the female half sat for almost the entire show and looked like she would rather have been anywhere else. There were also two women seated to my right who barely made it through a quarter of the show before leaving for refills of their drinks and snacks and then, a few songs later, left for good and never returned. During the "rock" encore, I didn't see many people around me doing much rocking out. The second the show was over, after a frenetic I'm A Wheel, everyone around me just kind of turned and filed out.


Like I said, maybe we just have different standards for audiences. This wasn't the worst crowd I've been in for a Wilco show by a long shot — it was perfectly fine — and it didn't affect my personal enjoyment of the gig. I was just reporting what I observed and felt. Glad that you enjoyed both nights so far and had what you felt to be a good crowd around you.

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On 6/23/2024 at 9:31 PM, theashtraysays said:

pioca for the aging sedate crowd? 

In danger of slipping into that demographic but I'm a pineapple upside down cake man myself.

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