Sunday, June 12, 2005

Wilco at the Greek

Show: Wilco at the Greek Theatre
Headliner: Wilco
Opener: Court and Spark
Location: Hearst Greek Theater at UC Berkeley
Date: Saturday, June 11, 2005

I came into this show relatively uninformed. I had only heard of Court and Spark but never actually heard any of their music. I think I looked around on their site but had trouble actually downloading any to listen to. All I knew was that they were a local (SF) band. As for Wilco, I had never actually listened to a disc straight through. I had heard songs of theirs by net radio, but I had never made an effort to give them a full listen through. A friend of mine had seen a Wilco show a month or two ago though and had raved about it, so I had decent expectations. Actually, that and the proximity to campus were the deciding factors since the $37.50 tickets (bought in person) were a bit more than I like to pay for shows.

Court and Spark were a distinctly mediocre band, though I do give them the slight edge to above average. But not much above. When they played, the sun was still shining but the winds were coming in from the bay, and besides a Depeche Mode cover they didn't do much to really capture my attention. Not a bad opener, but it doesn't make me want to seek them out further.

Wilco was definitely an enjoyable performance. They came on with the sun still up, and played a two hour set well into the darkness. Considering that Berkeley law prevents the concert going on past 11p, the 10:40ish end time was reasonable.

The main set/encore/second encore structure was odd to me. They played for an hour, then went off. Came back 2-3 minutes later and then player a 30 minute encore. Left again for another 2-3 minutes and played another 20 minutes or so. At this point, I really have to question what an encore is when it's clear the two encores were planned and consisted of just under half the playing time. Anyway, it's only a minor caveat...

The set (I'll refer to the show as only a single set) was good. I ended up recognizing between half and 2/3 of the songs, which was actually right about a good place for a band I enjoy but don't love. It started off with a few songs I didn't recognize and not particularity exciting, but that was ok since it allowed my attention to wander around the crowd as the daylight died (more on this later). Then a song that my friends recognized as a Paul Simon (they think) cover. And from there just an enjoyable mix of songs I recognized and enjoyed playing into the night air. Tweedy did a good job getting the crowd involved and a proper amount of audience chit-chat. Good work transitioning between songs, etc. Just a good time and a concert worth going to in your area. I think I'll try and find some Wilco discs to give a listen to.

As for the crowd. I wasn't expecting it, but my friend wasn't surprised to find the mostly 30-something crowd. I was kinda surprised to find so much of the crowd at an advanced age. What I was not surprised about was some of the wackos in the crowd, since it is Berkeley after all. Crazy prego dancer was a particularity interesting one. Plus the geriatric tokers standing in front of me and occasionally turning around and attempting to communicate to me in gibberish was interesting. I will say though that you've got love an outdoor concert on a warm summer's eve.


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