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Author: Subject: Just Saw Wilco Tonight - What Am I Missing?

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 12:21 AM
A good buddy of mine asked if I'd join him to go see Wilco earlier tonight at Ovens Arena in Charlotte. We went last year when they came through, and I had the same reaction then as tonight: I don't get what people dig about this band.

Now for my buddy's sake, I'll do anything - even if I think it might not be much to my liking. He thinks Jeff Tweedy is just the bomb. But his approach to music appreciation focuses on lyrical content first, melodic construction and execution second. I'm just the opposite: if the melody and musicianship doesn't have a structure that touches my emotions, I could care less what the lyrics say. Even with that, we like a lot of the same stuff. But we're seriously parting ways when it comes to the kind of music Wilco puts out. Oh yeah, he tried to get me into Sufjan Stevens too - another one I just can't fathom.

So I'm at the show earlier, watching all these 20-somethings dig Wilco. Mind you, this is nothing like the scene at a Beacon ABB show with empassioned cheers after every blistering, blues-drenched solo. But in their own way, they're digging what the band is putting out. At the same time, I'm just shaking my head. The solos were lifeless, with barely a single one sticking to any melodic theme lasting more than a few short bars or building on a musical idea that I could detect. Just a lot of stacato repetition of chords and single notes, straffing of guitar strings at machine gun speed to elicit droning boredom. The lyrics might be interesting, but overall song structure is just blahhhh to me. Four notes from either Derek or Warren could express more emotion than these guys could muster all night.

So am I missing something here? After all; many critics seem to place these guys in high stature. My take; in times when the basest mediocrity is heralded as civilizations greatest achievement, people will latch on to anything. But then again, its a big world and maybe there should be a seat for every ass so who am I to judge?

So, am I in the minority in regard to Wilco?

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 12:48 AM
I'm with you on this. Although I saw them at one of the HORDE shows way back when. I didn't care much for them. I thought it was really a bunch of noise. Just not my thing



 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 01:12 AM
quote:
My take; in times when the basest mediocrity is heralded as civilizations greatest achievement, people will latch on to anything.


First of all, I love this line, and if you are the original author, maybe you should make that into a bumper sticker, I'd buy it (though I don't use bumper stickers).

Second, I am off to see Wilco Friday night. My friends offered me a ticket and ride so why not. However, I am not to thrilled about this show. I have given their one album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a listen and it is a solid album. However, the studio is a place where anyone can sound good (even me). I will get back to you by Friday, and know that I will be going to the show with an open mind. Note: My two other friends I will be going to this show with are the typical Wilco fans, judging by your brief description. I tried to introduce them to jazz and blues, and they really could not grasp what I dug about those genres. I have a feeling my friends are similiar to yours in that they care more about the lyrics than the music.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 01:18 AM
quote:
quote:
My take; in times when the basest mediocrity is heralded as civilizations greatest achievement, people will latch on to anything.


First of all, I love this line, and if you are the original author, maybe you should make that into a bumper sticker, I'd buy it (though I don't use bumper stickers).

Second, I am off to see Wilco Friday night. My friends offered me a ticket and ride so why not. However, I am not to thrilled about this show. I have given their one album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a listen and it is a solid album. However, the studio is a place where anyone can sound good (even me). I will get back to you by Friday, and know that I will be going to the show with an open mind. Note: My two other friends I will be going to this show with are the typical Wilco fans, judging by your brief description. I tried to introduce them to jazz and blues, and they really could not grasp what I dug about those genres. I have a feeling my friends are similiar to yours in that they care more about the lyrics than the music.


Can't wait to hear your review.

I like lyrics that why I like John Prine, Todd Snider and John Hiatt. Jeff Tweedy just isn't in their league

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 01:29 AM
quote:
Can't wait to hear your review.

I like lyrics that why I like John Prine, Todd Snider and John Hiatt. Jeff Tweedy just isn't in their league


Definitely man. Add Nick Drake to the list for me. Now there is real singer/songwriter. Review will follow the show as promised!

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 02:22 AM
I've given them a few chances, but I just can't get into them. I have a few friends who love them, but for me it just doesn't work. A lot of slow, medium tempo songs, with instrumental breaks that completely depart from the song itself. I guess that's their thing. I love spacey, outside guitar work and now that Nels Cline is in the band, I thought it would improve them, but IMO, he's better suited to his other projects. I saw him a few years back with Henry Kaiser's Yo Miles group, and he was great.
 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 07:04 AM
As the resident Wilco fan, I can only tell you what their appeal is to me.
I'll preface my remarks by stating that, yeah - they can be bombastic and over the top at times. In fact, at any given moment only about 66-70% of their stuff appeals to me. They tend to go overboard with ambient sound, sound effects and actual noise from time to time.

Once you get past that, you'll also find some very nice melodies, lyrics and pop hooks. Jeff Tweedy also has a unique singing voice.

Upon their debut, Wilco was labeled as "alt country", whatever the hell that is. They do incorporate steel guitar (along with synth's and guitars), but that's really the only "country" tie that I find.

Compared to the Allman Brothers, Government Mule, Derk Trucks and Oteil and the Peacemakers - Wilco has a very streamlined style of performing. Everything is pretty much by the book. They are not a jam band, they stay close to the original song when playing live.

For recordings, I recommend the first "Mermaid Avenue" album (with Billy Bragg and others - unrecorded songs of Woody Guthrie), and "Summerteeth", which is their most song-oriented album. At times they sound like the Beatles, Pink Floyd and even the Beach Boys.

I've seen Wilco a few times, and enjoyed each show. I'm not trying to sell you on them, or even convince you to go out and hear them. There's a world full of music out there - pick and choose whatever suits your tastes and needs. You either Like Wilco or you don't. If you don't get them, that's cool.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 07:47 AM
Wilco's a band you either love or hate - I've grown to love them. I started listening to them w/ their first album, A.M., and then really stopped (for no reason). Picked them back up again with A Ghost is Born, and really dig them.

And to Fast43 - if you saw them on HORDE tour it probably wasn't as much of "a bunch of noise" as you recollect, because Wilco was only on HORDE tour in '95, and it was basically straight acoustic at that point - certainly nothing like what they sound like today...although the new album is a little bit of a return to their original sound.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 07:52 AM
well, i don't know much about them ..i finally saw a concert of thiers on the hi-def channel..

you can't argue the fact that a lot of people like them....

Something either gets you in your heart or it doesn't ..

it didn't get me...

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 08:41 AM
Interesting timing of this topic for me. Wilco is one of those bands that I always felt I should be loving but they just hadn't clicked for me, yet. I've read a few very positive reviews of their new CD "Sky Blue Sky" and am thinking of picking it up soon...

[Edited on 6/21/2007 by EasyMichael]

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 09:02 AM
roger WILCO ahh and out!!!!!

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 09:07 AM
I'm not a huge Wilco fan, but I do love their album Being There...one of my favorites...

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 09:14 AM
I'm not the biggest Wilco fan, but I did enjoy their set at Langerado last year, and I feel like I had a revelation, or at least a minor epiphany, about their appeal.

Neil Young. That is their touchstone, in my opinion. People who like Neil's acoustic stuff AND his noisy garage rock with Crazy Horse will find both at a Wilco show--often in the same song!

 
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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 09:19 AM
That's an interesting comparison - Wilco to Neil Young. I'm sure people who like Neil, but don't care for Wilco might not appreciate it, but I've drawn that comparison myself.
Like Neil, Jeff Tweedy write some great tunes. And like Neil, I wish Tweedy would stay the hell away from the electric guitar.
Even if you do not care for Wilco - try to respect their fresh and somewhat unique approach. Their sound is not all that derivative from other bands or acts and they are not trying to re-invent or re-interpret blues for the 200,000th time. I say that as a HUGE blues fan.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 09:37 AM
quote:
I'm not the biggest Wilco fan, but I did enjoy their set at Langerado last year, and I feel like I had a revelation, or at least a minor epiphany, about their appeal.

Neil Young. That is their touchstone, in my opinion. People who like Neil's acoustic stuff AND his noisy garage rock with Crazy Horse will find both at a Wilco show--often in the same song!

It is certainly evident that they are big Neil Young fans. The author of this thread commented on their solos being very sort of, avant garde. That is definitely a take on Neil, I think. I have always loved Neil Young, and like Wilco, you either like him or you don't. I absolutely LOVE their more folky stuff. I can't see how anyone can say that they do not have any melody. Jeff Tweedy is a fantastic songwriter, and the majority of their tunes are very melodic. They have a very jazzy tone most of the time, which I love. Aside from that, the lyrical content is amazing and Tweedy has one of the most unique voices out there.

Sure, they are not the Allman Brother Band. They are not a jamband. They do not have 5 minute solos from every guitar player in the band. If everyone sounded like the Allmans, this would be a very boring world, now wouldn't it. Thank God for variety, and thank God for Wilco. I would have gone to see them Tuesday in Atlanta if I wasn't heading to Vegas this evening.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 10:30 AM
quote:
Wilco's a band you either love or hate - I've grown to love them. I started listening to them w/ their first album, A.M., and then really stopped (for no reason). Picked them back up again with A Ghost is Born, and really dig them.

And to Fast43 - if you saw them on HORDE tour it probably wasn't as much of "a bunch of noise" as you recollect, because Wilco was only on HORDE tour in '95, and it was basically straight acoustic at that point - certainly nothing like what they sound like today...although the new album is a little bit of a return to their original sound.


They were Electric and played on the second stage that year. Being on the second stage I'll grant you that they may have had a bad sound mix.

Now of what came out of Uncle Tupelo I prefer Son Volt. Really liked their first Cd. But I've never had the chance to see them.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 10:43 AM
quote:
Sure, they are not the Allman Brother Band. They are not a jamband. They do not have 5 minute solos from every guitar player in the band. If everyone sounded like the Allmans, this would be a very boring world, now wouldn't it. Thank God for variety, and thank God for Wilco.

I'm with you 100% on the issue of variety. Certainly I intended no criticsm of those who enjoy this band.

As to the Neil Young comparisons; I see it, but at the same time it's a stretch for me (sounds like another way to say "I feel strongly both ways"). For all his distorted, fuzzed-out glory, Neil still has a solid melodic core runing through his song structures and even through most of his solos. It's not just grind for the sake of grind.

All this said, last night's Wilco performance was much more musical than what I saw last year, which was way over the top with go-no-where grindfest solos and a minimum of melodic song structure. I guess I'll just never get the appeal - but then again, I don't like lima beans either.

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 10:49 AM
I like the two albums they did with Billy Bragg of Woody Guthrie songs .



 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 11:20 AM
quote:
...but then again, I don't like lima beans either.

Me, neither.

Go listen (download?) to "At Least That's What You Said" from 2003's A Ghost Is Born. You can certainly hear the Neil Young comparison. In fact, download that entire album, along with this year's Sky Blue Sky, and then tell me they lack a melodic core.

You can get the latter here with BitTorrent:
http://www.mininova.org/search/WILCO/seeds

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 11:30 AM
I don't get Wilco either....and I've tried. I'm glad I'm not alone on this.
 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 05:13 PM
not into wilco at all......someone told me that their original band split and the other guys formed son volt.. they were playing against panic ( thank goodness) at wakarusa and it was great

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 08:51 PM
I find them droll, depressing and tuneless. a friend had me watch a dvd of their struggle of making an album, I had trouble sitting through that! Tweedy is kind of a whiny biatch! I don't find anything country about them. check out Tift Merritt!!, now thats a talented alternative to the nashtrash machine!. and she is REAL easy on the eyes!. http://www.tiftmerritt.net/

[Edited on 6/22/2007 by pops42]

 

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  posted on 6/21/2007 at 11:08 PM
I love Wilco and I second the Neil Young comparison. You certainly cannot expect the note-perfect extended blues-rock jamtastic stretch-outs that you get from the ABB from Wilco, and I am also not knocked out by the "profundity" of their lyrics, just by their excellent FEEL. I think they are a feel band. I lump them in with (here are two extremes, but if ya get me, ya get me) The Replacements and The Band.
 

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  posted on 6/22/2007 at 03:15 PM
"I'm just the opposite: if the melody and musicianship doesn't have a structure that touches my emotions, I could care less what the lyrics say."

I just want to say, I'm the say way. I like to hear other people say that...

Anyway, about Wilco. Their current drummer Glenn Kotche is a good friend of mine. We used to play in bands together and record together in the early to mid 90's. I still keep in touch with him. He's been with them since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I was a mild fan before he joined and I think what they've done ever since then is very creative. Although not for everyone. And admittedly I don't spend too much time listening to them. - But what I wanted to say is, the first day I played with Glenn, I said to him "if anyone I know ever makes it, it's going to be you!" And I guess I was right. Glenn is one of the most amazing drummers you'll ever see, although I'm not sure that you'll get to find that out for yourselves in Wilco. In fact, when he joined I thought "that might be a waste of his talent", but I guess that is all up to the listener... But I can never stress how amazing with drums and all percussion he is. He is also a super nice guy and it's a little weird to see him on things such as Wikipedia.

 

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  posted on 6/22/2007 at 03:25 PM
Honestly, Im with most of the peopple here, and have never gotten to much into Wilco. The rampant tales of Jeff Tweedy being a grade A major league **** have also somewhat kept me from investing too much time with them.....In a heartbeat Ill take Son Volt, who Jay Farrar formed after he and Tweedy had a knock down rumble (over a woman, believe it or not)-Farrar bolted and formed Son Volt while Tweedy and Co. are now Wilco. I love Son Volt to death, the guys kick major ass-And in the interest of shameless plugs, which im known to do around here now and then, I reviewed them for JamBase about a month or so ago when they came through ATL and played Variety Playhouse....check it out @ http://www.jambase.com/headsup.asp?storyID=10535

So in a nutshell, leave Wilco. Let the kids have them, take Son Volt anyday. The new album is GREAT....

 

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