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Wi-Fi Guy Reborn At Wilco Wolf Trap Show, Etc.

August 3rd, 2012 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Wi-Fi

When The Dirty Gig is good, it is very good. But when the DG is bad* …

Once again PingWi-Fi blogs anew, on the road, because of a disaster. This time it is a man-made event near Washington DC. Enough said.

Here’s the good part …

In the afterhours, there is some time to sample Wi-Fi and the rich culture in and around The District. First stop, Wilco, at Vienna. Va.’s storied Wolf Trap National Park For The Performing Arts … Wolf Trap is one of the coolest venues … a very comfortable setting with lawn chair seating and reserved seating … an amphitheater with modern architecture, yet a rustic woodwork look to it … Great people watching, nice acoustics … but WHAT, no Wi-Fi hotspot!?! Anywho …

“It is finished.”

Those are the three most significant words in history … words I once (quite respectfully) borrowed from our Savior, to signify the end of my first blog trek — the 18,000-mile roadtrip called The Wi-Fi Guy.

The end of that wireless pilgrimage was damn near a religious experience for me because the final stop was Austin, Texas for a music festival featuring dozens of great bands … and one of my all-time favorites, the band Wilco.

So … I am ecstatic that this rebirthed blog, renamed PingWi-Fi, got the nod to cover Wilco at Wolf Trap. It’s like Wilco is for me a tale of two capital cities ….

Wolf Trap

I have been a Wilco witness for years to many friends, one of whom constantly refers to my healthy iPod collection of Wilco as “country music.” For that ongoing argument, I found vindication in the first third of Wilco’s performance at The Trap.

After a warm up by Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Wilco followed suit with lots of multi-layered, heady mood music laced with guitar and feedback … hardly country.

As I listened and kept the Nikon D7000 barrel blazing, it occurred to me that Jeff Tweedy, guitarist Nels Cline and company have been around long enough to be considered classic rock by today’s standards. And yet, their show started with songs as complex, and multi-textured — even experimental — as anything by perhaps bigger somewhat contemporary bands … i.e. Coldplay.

Wilco came out amped … moody … dramatic … with hard-edge songs emphasized with dark, rich lighting schemes and a simple, but interesting, backdrop (perhaps the in-house creation of Wolf Trap ??? ) — wadded, tied balls of white cloth that looked much like do-it-yourself Halloween decorations … like Halloween in an opium den … but in a good way.

Wilco played two nights in a row at Wolf Trap, and we pinged the second night. I can only assume the set list was similar. Ah … this is cool. Here is a set list, color coded to show which albums were most represented in the concert:

Wilco Set List

But I gotta say, my favorites were not emphasized enough or not soon enough. The first half of the concert was excellent and the younger fanatics seemed quite happy with themselves and the chosen set list.

Me … not as much … I mean … except for Cline’s blistering, fedback guitar work. Dang it … Tweedy is a poet and he should know it … and emphasize those lyrics/vocals more like in the early days. But … alas … that just means I am getting old.

And opinionated …

Speaking of the younger fans … I thought I was going to have a little skirmish with one of them. He got all in my face just because I was in the seat next to him. He was dancing, quite poorly I might add, as I was shooting close ups. But after several songs, he started waving his fist in my face — veins popping out in his neck — telling me I had to move for his (perhaps significant other Wilco fan) friend’s place .. who was then shuffling through the rows, to get to where I was sitting.

I am not prone to use profanity. But, in rare form, I politely told him to shut the “eff” up and quit giving me attitude, and then I would move.

It was an honest mistake on my part. I had a photo pass and was invited by an usher to go into what I thought was the photography area, prior to Wilco taking the stage. As my Facebook friends saw via my check in and wall posts, I chose what I thought was an open seat in the media area — it just happened to be row one, center stage. Who wouldn’t it? (Click on some of these photos to become a BFF on FB, BTW …)

But, as I learned in a very rude way, it was actually a reserved seat and the numbers were obscured on the top surface of the stage. Oops. But, by this time I had already shot and tweeted many a Tweedy shot … The guy backed down, and smiled and said okay … and I moved over to the side for the rest of the show.

I digress …

So anyway … I was marveling at how Wilco was playing all these great songs … but that they were not the ones I wanted. Tweedy was fronting a machine, yet he was dressed like he might be evolving into an old Black bluesman. He had on dress pants and a nice coat, with a derby-like felt, dress hat … very reminiscent of the archive photos of Willie Dixon and that blues crowd.

Ha … interesting … Tweedy’s pants were wet at the knee. It was that hot … but I have never noticed a sweat spot on someone’s knee before … maybe he spilled a drink … who knows. Had he been on “bent knee.”

Back to the music … enough feed back … how ’bout some of that poetry, blues man!

Finally it came in the form of a Wilco masterpiece – “Jesus, Etc.” (Note … Etc. will play a role in the very next blog … so stay tuned.)

You know what, it has been eight years since I have seen Wilco. Why in the world should I expect them to play the same songs today … I mean … yes I understand the formula for a rock show. The old-time favorites will come … but not until the end of the show.

But you see, here’s the thing. That night, I had a long drive back to Maryland and did not have the luxury of riding in “the passenger side” … and then I would be forced to face The Dirty Gig again, for another 12-hour bout with the DC-area heatwave, beginning at 5 a.m.

So I had to leave before the concert was over … I hate that … I missed some favorites, no doubt. But it is what it is on The Dirty Gig … *and that my friends is when the DG is bad.

Regardless … woudn’t have missed the show for the world. I am playing my favorite Wilco songs on iTunes — where I call the shots and make the set list — now as I blog.  Just realized I am also blogging in my new Wilco t-shirt.  I am such a t-shirt ho

If you don’t know Wilco, you should check them out. They are not country:

“Hummingbird” — “his goal in life was to be an echo … ”

“Forget The Flowers” … (okay, perhaps country) … “You’re trying my patience, try pink carnations. Red roses and yellow daffodils. Don’t forget the flowers, someday, I know you will …”

“Passenger Side” — “for the last couple of miles you’ve been swerving side to side, you’re going to make me spill my beer if you don’t learn how to steer …”

“I Got You” — “It’s the end of the century and I can’t think of anything but you …”

“Theologians” — “Theologians, they don’t know nothin about my soul …”

“Pick Up The Change” — “If you want to call me darlin, that’s just fine … but …”

“I Must Be High” — “I must be high to say goodbye …”

Know what I sayin?