Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wilco | Shelburne Museum | Jun 29

I’m about two weeks late with this review of Wilco's show at Shelburne Museum. So, I’ll just post some random thoughts about the show. The upside of being late is that a friend dropped off a copy of the show yesterday. So, now I can include a few tracks from the show with this post.

- I was fearing the cocktail of normal Friday rush hour traffic going down Rt. 7 and a few hundred extra cars full of concert goers. So, we took back roads from Richmond to Hinesburg to Shelburne to avoid the traffic. Despite getting a little lost, running into an impassable dirt road and putting the continuation of my marriage at risk, it worked. It took us about ten minutes longer than it would to drive to Shelburne without any traffic. So, by avoiding the stress factory of Rt. 7, we probably saved a few minutes. Plus, we kept moving. Since moving to VT, I have zero tolerance for sitting in traffic.

- The other potential bugaboo for us getting there in time to catch Low was will call. I’m horrible about keeping track of tickets I receive in the mail. So, I use will call a lot. The difference though is that I’m usually at shows with about a hundred people. This was a few thousand. So, I was a bit worried about waiting forever for our tickets. However, hats off to the crew from Higher Ground. There were about 20 people in line when we got there but the line flew. We had our tickets and were in the door in less than five minutes. It’s nice when things run well.

- I’d never seen a show at Shelburne Museum before so I wasn’t quite sure where on the grounds the show was going to be. I hoped it would be on the big lawn next to the Ticonderoga but I knew that would be a logistical nightmare. The show wound up being on the field that slopes away from the parking lot and towards Lake Champlain. You can’t see the lake from the hill but it’s a beautiful woodland setting and you can catch the tops of the Adirondacks. Considering the setting and the bright sunshine, it was a beautiful night to hang outside. The music was just a bonus.

- The best part of missing the traffic and having will call zip right along was that we got to catch all of Low’s set. In fact, we even got there in time to grab some dinner before Low hit the stage. I got a ham & cheese crepe from the Skinny Pancake and my wife got falafel from Ahli Baba’s. I liked my crepe but my wife had been spoiled by our trip to Mamouns in NYC a few weeks ago. So, she just kept mumbling, “Not as good as Mamouns”, as she ate. In general, though, it was nice to have a bunch of local vendors there rather than some crappy concession stand slinging over-priced hockey puck burgers and nachos. It seemed like the vendors did pretty well all night long too.

- I hadn’t seen Low since their tour with Dirty Three about a decade ago. However, their album “I Could Live in Hope” has remained one of my favorite albums over the years. While they didn’t play anything from that album, they still sounded good. Their haunting sound is better suited to small dark urban clubs late at night than sun drenched lawns at dinnertime. However, living in VT, I can’t be choosy about the setting where I get to hear them. So, I was happy.

- The one downside to the bright “sky blue sky” sunshine is that the sun came down right behind the stage. That means that for the last hour of sunlight, we were all staring directly into a heap of blinding sunshine. Combined with the fact that my eyes had been dilated earlier that afternoon for an eye exam, I was squinting like a madman.

- Wilco took the stage around 7:30 and played right up to their 9:30 curfew. The set was largely a mix of the last three albums and, in general, they sounded pretty good. The only odd part of their sound was the drums; the snare particularly. For some reason, it sounded more like a pop you get from bubble packing than its usual crack. I thought it was perhaps related to us being behind the soundboard but a friend who was closer mentioned the same thing. He said everything just sounded like a bad tom-tom drum. Regardless, it was a good set. I particularly enjoyed “Hummingbird”. It felt appropriate in that setting. I would have liked to have heard “Company In My Back” but I think I heard everything else I wanted to. You can see the set list here. Largehearted Boy has a link to the site where you can download the flac file of the show. I’d post all of the tracks from the show but it would blow out my allowed bandwidth from Fileden in about three hours. I really need to find a site where I can store files without worrying about bandwidth all the time.

- I guess nobody told Jeff Tweedy that kids 12 & under were free because he mentioned a few times how surprised he was by all the kids at the show. Didn't anyone tell him that Pitchfork called Wilco "dad-rock"? He said the show was the most wholesome one they’d ever done…and he’d been planning on working blue that night. He even had a dance contest for the kids and gave the winner a Wilco t-shirt. We thought about bringing the kids for about one second but we wanted to enjoy ourselves. So, we coughed up the money for a babysitter and had a relaxing time.

- In case you were wondering what Tweedy was talking about when he joked about being glad the kid's name wasn't actually Tawny, here's the Whitesnake video he was referencing. I dare you to make it through the whole video...with the volume up.

- It was amusing watching the hippie dancers struggle to keep going when Wilco would go into their feedback sessions.

- One freaky thing during the show was this guy who kept looking backwards with his binoculars. We happened to be right behind him. So, I spent all of “Muzzle of Bees” with him staring at me through his binoculars.

- Once the sun dropped down behind the trees and our squinting headaches subsided, the sunset was a nice light show and backdrop.

- The big winner of the night was the Magic Hat beer tent. It was hopping all night long. There was even an announcement from the stage prior to Wilco playing that encouraged people to stick around after the show to have some more beers while the traffic leaves. I’m not sure about the wisdom of telling people to drink some more before driving but people already seemed well on their way to following that advice.

- Not wanting to get stuck in the exiting traffic, we watched the last two songs from the top of the hill. I was surprised they squeezed in “Heavy Metal Drummer”. It seemed like Tweedy was saying goodnight, explaining the curfew and talking himself offstage when all of a sudden, the drum machine intro to “Heavy Metal Drummer” kicked in. Cool song to end the night with. While listening at the top of the hill, I noticed that some people had ridden their bikes to the show and were watching/listening to the show from just outside the fence. You’re a long way away but you can’t beat the price. Plus, you get to check out this guy’s cool hot dog hat all night long.

- By watching the end of the show from the top of the hill, we were able to get out pretty quickly. However, talking to people afterwards that stayed down by the stage until the end, traffic was a mess getting out of there. It took one person 45 minutes before he could even get out of his parking space. Part of the problem was that they weren’t allowing cars to exit directly onto Rt. 7. So, you had to cut all the way back across the parking lot and across the flow of people coming out of the gates. As well as the will call booth was run, it sounds like the traffic plan needs a bunch of work.

- In the end, my feelings for Wilco haven't changed. I always enjoy their music and have all of their CDs but never feel passionate about them. Once again, it was a fun evening of good music but there wasn't any "Wow factor". I'd never list among my favorite bands but I'll go see them whenever they come around, buy any new releases and never change the station when they come on the radio.

Wilco | Handshake Drugs (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | Hummingbird (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | California Stars (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | Heavy Metal Drummer (Live @ Shelburne Museum)


Matt said...

Thanks for the tracks! I made it to the show while visiting friends in Burlington (was up from DC).

I thought the band sounded great, and the weather and setting only made it better.

Bob said...

Great report, Murf. How many Magic Hats does one need to drink before one is comfortable wearing a hot dog hat?