Sunday, April 22, 2007

too old for band teeshirts? :: Wilco (again) at the Palais Theatre

sometimes i get carried away with anticipation.

wilco's melbourne gigs are a case in point. i marked any calendar i could get my hands on in an effort to disperse the excitement. some might argue that that only makes it worse!

for wilco's first show at the palais theatre last wednesday night, there was a palpable sense of excitement amongst the crowd milling outside the palais theatre. though this may also have been amplified by our indulgent muso spotting (look! the dudes from The Audreys! the drummer from Gersey! that guy that we always see at gigs!).

so much so was our excitement that we rushed over to join the queue to the merchandise stand - should we get a hoodie or a poster or a tee? oooh is their new album for sale here? i love checking out the merch but i must confess that i have been remarkably resistant.
snout socks? nuh.
dallas crane beach ball? nuh.
rebecca's empire tea towel? nuh.

the grates' screen printed tote bags? nuh.
you am i footy scarf? nuh.

yeah yeah yeahs rack of clothes for the karen o wannabees? NUH!

dan kelly and the alpha males sticker?, OK!
see. _remarkably_ resistant.

while cass and elmo went to check out the luxurious seating in the bar upstairs, my good friend dr b and i convened to the queue where i thought out loud:

you know, i think i might be too old for band teeshirts.

she immediately pooh-poohed this idea "noooo. [waves hand. shakes head. looks generally shocked] you're never too old. I'm going to get the hoodie. i've been looking for one, it's fate"

let me provide some context about this 'too old' statement. another good friend is losing the 2 in front of her age this month - HAPPY
BIRTHDAY EKY! - and this event is looooming for yours truly as well - eek. and you think of those middle aged dudes from the 'burbs on RockWiz (cass excluded of course ;p) in their Motorhead teeshirts...and i wonder if i'm seeing the future. i'll be a crusty jaded 60 year old holding onto Radiohead, Dirty Three, Teenage Fanclub, Even and Never Letting Go. Those were the days when music was music, i'll say to my grandkids. when we had analogue. none of this newfangled stuff, what do you call that anyway? and what machine do you play it on? and how do you turn it down? what makes someone choose to wear an emblazoned tee? announcing that you're such a fan that you advertise proudly on your person - i guess it's no different to those who wear their polo collars up to display their brand of choice? then again, these days it seems that you can purchase a ramones, stones or velvets tee from an alternative chain store as a fashion statement or maybe even a means to get some rock'n'roll cred (god knows, that seems a difficult commodity these days). i got a wilco tee-shirt anyway ;D

Wilco, Palais Theatre, 18 and 19th April, 2007

the second gig was awesome! wilco played a different set to that of the night before, a good sign that a band appreciates their audience.

kicking off with "misunderstood" and "via chicago", we were also treated to "passenger side" from AM and tracks from A Ghost is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot such as "'kamera" that weren't aired the previous night. within the context their new album Sky Blue Sky, older songs like "jesus, etc" appeared to take on some of the new 70s west-coast styling or perhaps this was already implicit. seeing them live really made me appreciate the complexity of their music, i sat there thinking i could hear something new if i saw them every night. i love the song "hummingbird": it's so light and airy in the opening verse only to swell and swoon upon the chorus, 'she appears/in his dreams' , it is one of my favourite songs. i particularly loved the military-like drumming during 'i am trying to break your heart". it sounded so amazing, as if i were hearing it for the first time. this song also serves as a great example of how wilco play as if deconstructing each song by the distinct sound contributed by individuals in the band. they layer instrument over instruments, melody over melodies, riff over riffs to create a warm, buzzing sound that isn't exactly absent in their albums but somehow more present in the flesh.

not to say that were all bluster, they also know how to be quiet and elegant allowing singer/songwriter jeff tweedy's melancholic voice more prominence.
the second night audience missed out on the gorgeous outtake from mermaid avenue and the acoustic, un-miked uncle tupelo song tweedy performed the night before. tweedy again engaged at length with the crowd, apologising for comments from the previous night, asking dancing folks to turn to their neighbours for permission 'to stare at their [dancing] butt all night' and stating 'we all want to live here [in australia]. this is what america used to be like, don't f**k it up!' it was such an enormous pleasure to see how much the band themselves were enjoying their music. really looking forward to the new record, sounds like it will make a great driving tape!


jeremy said...

thanks for the ace write-up! band rehearsal on thursday prevented me from taking advantage of the half price deal but you pretty much echoed my thoughts on wilco live and its ogre-like layers.

"you're short on long-term goals
there's a party there that we oughta go to
you still love rock'n'roll
you still love rock'n'roll"

elmo said...

yeah, i agree...the spontaneous acoustic at the end was bloody awesome. him standing there belting out this amazing song with one spotlight from behind, no mike, no backup, filling that entire space with his voice...its one of those classic images that you won't forget...

kaluds said...

wow, i've never seen your meeting people is easy shirt! and i totally agree with the wise (ha!) dr b that you're never too old for band shirts ... or, er, hoodies ....

also love the pic of wilco's name up in lights ...! haven't been floored by a gig like that for quite a while. the second show sounds as though it was great too, and i agree that mixing up the set is definitely a sign of respect for one's audience. with the way wilco play and layer the sound, i have a hunch that even two identical (on paper) sets would still sound quite different. aah bless you, jeff tweedy ;p

jfox said...

jeremy> i do still love rock'n'roll! thanks for visiting and if you don't mind me asking, what band were you rehearsing with and are you gigging around?

elmo> definitely will carry the gig around with me for a while ;D in my book, you're not a true muso if you can't stand up and perform like tweedy did

kaluds> dr b is indeed very wise (almost owl-like proportions - ha!)