Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Shot In The Arm

Was listening to Wilco's live album Kicking Television on my way to work today. Always loved the band and the discs prove to be very worthwhile. Their sound has changed tremendously since Jeff Tweedy spun the band off of Uncle Tupelo in the mid-90s. I caught them about a dozen times between 1994 and 1999. The music went from the alt-country guitars/mandolin/violin sounds of Uncle Tupelo to the keyboard-laden Summerteeth to the more experimental Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Kicking Television is filled with synth and keyboards and guitars. Very good stuff.

Checking my drafts, I found this comment on the third time I saw the band.

Wilco - 1995 - American Theatre, St. Louis - On a whim caught this show the night before Thanksgiving. It was the third time I had seen the band and the first time I saw them delve into the more adventurous side of their catalog a full year before Being There came out. When Jeff Tweedy began pacing the stage screaming "I AM SO..... OUT OF TUNE.... With you..." in "Sunken Treasure," the audience seemed a bit confused, but as the song sank in, we knew something good was happening. Opener at this show was Paul Kelly.

Moving to Chicago in 1997, I would catch the band in various venues, including Lounge Ax, which was their defacto home base until it was shut down. Tweedy would test out songs there and the band would play warm-up gigs before going out on the road. What a fun place to see them. Loud. Cheap (once they played a free show billed as "a band whose name rhymes with Bilco."). This was before they blew up and could easily sell out the Auditorium Theatre for several nights in a row. I think the last time I saw them was late in 1999 when they opened for REM at the World down in Tinley Park. They weren't as much fun in such a massive shed.

I'll have to think more on the shows. The venues were all different. Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, The Blind Pig in Champaign (just a bar, really), the aforementioned American Theatre, Lounge Ax, The Riviera, the 1998 Guinness Fleagh festival at Arlington Race Course. All were great places to see them play.

Good times.

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