Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wilco rocks Tanglewood
Wilco proved again, last night, why they are the best band in America. Jeff Tweedy and company offered superb musicianship, complex songs, and a reason to shout. Gone are the days of an angry Tweedy spitting bile at an adoring audience. The adoring audience is still there, but Tweedy seems to like us. Dressed in illustrated and bejeweled Nudie suits, the band seemed to be enjoying shaking the dust from the rafters at the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra where the hardest rock prior to Wilco has been James Taylor's band.
ADDENDUM: Some thoughts about Tanglewood. For those who have attended Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts there, or pop concerts with the likes of Garrison Keillor, James Taylor or Bonnie Raitt, you understand the gentrified, laid back vibe of the place. It was a music shed before any of these new outdoor sheds, with failing automotive company names, was ever dreamed of. Tanglewoods grounds are lovely, nestled into the Bershires, with lots of pleasant views, and acres of lawns. The site lines from the lawn to the stage are non-existent. There are two video-mag screen for the picnickers and lawn chair crowd. Inside the shed, the unpaved floor is gently sloped so that even inside, sight lines are not great, but the sound is terrific. For veterans of folk and rock festivals it probably came as some surprise that there were no bag or cooler searches, and you could bring in whatever you wanted to eat or drink. Compare this to the cavity searches done at some festivals, and you begin to relax the minute you walk through the gate. I saw blankets laden with every kind of comestible and beverage, and though smoking is strictly discouraged on the grounds, there was lots of weed being consumed. There didn't seem to be the philosophy of, "Keep your beer and wine out so we can sell more of ours." And yet, they had a nice selection of Sam Adams and Magic Hat beers, some on tap, some in bottles. The ticket-takers and ushers are mostly seniors, and this may have been the rockingest show ever for the venerable venue, but they never seemed to get flustered. The mid-set journey from the back rows to the stage were largely unchallenged, with local police keeping the final aisle to the stage clear, and doing it with a sense of humor. I'd go to Tanglewood for another show like this in a second.
Tweedy line of the evening, after being heckled with dozens of requests - "Do you shout out requests when the BSO is here?" And then after a pause for effect, he turned his voice into a shouting heckler, "Mahler. Mahler. Mahler."