Friday, September 28, 2012

maybe all we need is A Shot In the Arm...

wilco performed last saturday night at the greek theatre (9/22) and proved that they are some of the premier craftsmen of music, both in artistry and professionalism. as with most of this tour, wilco blasted through an inflated first set, aka the mega set, deploying nineteen songs from throughout their catalog. the encore spawned another eight tracks. this two (plus) hour platform allowed them to establish their newest effort, the whole love, while pleasing the listeners with past gems as well. there were some replicated songs during this performance however. normally i'm disappointed in a band playing the same song in back to back shows and eight songs is pushing it, especially when they have such a deep chest of treasures. aside from the mini rant, i was glad to get: i might, the whole love, i'm the man who loves you and a shot in the arm, even if they were doubled up.

wilco has an inner knack for honoring each song amidst exploratory sounds and individual personalities. this means-to-an-end is always beginning, then changing. in the first set i remember misunderstood being incredibly thoughtful and melodically undone. tweedy's voice was captivating listeners in the current of layered sounds his band mates conjured. jesus, etc. is such a treat to hear live. this track epitomizes the melding of lyrics to music in a way that recognizes observations and relationships. the line, "you were right about the stars, each one is a setting sun" only helps to create visions of something that seems revelatory yet we've all shared in.

jesus instigated a steady stream of rousing music. a highlighted quartet of songs started with whole love. this title track carried its anthem-like pulse directly into a candid bit of banter. tweedy commented, "we should've played this one last night." a reference to earlier antics where he compared the two nights.

"...wind must be blowing out. i don't smell nearly as much mary-ja-wanna. that's good for me. i'm still high from last night."

this made for the transition into i must be high, a classic tale of letting go. next came more chit-chat followed by the piano roll of walken, which has a definite cadence and is a favorite of mine. nels cline totally dismantled it with his hollow, sliding riffs on this cool night. he's a machine. the entire band is unfairly awesome. next came the squall and crash of i'm the man who loves you! this one i wanted to hear for selfish reasons, it makes me think of my life, attached to the journey of partnership.

the love vibe kept pace with, dawned on me, a good tune with lyrical wit. then it got all rock n roll. for reasons too long winded, a shot in the arm simply rocked. it seemed to liven the crowd with the energy of what rock music is supposed to feel like. six days later its energy was still clinging to me. commuting on her bike, my wife said this was the song in her head. without question it was a great tune to segue the set closer, on and on and on, another testament to love and its battles.

the encore started with a straight-up missile of potency. via chicago steals all the air out of its surroundings. how it blends its poetic tale with seamless tone before it becomes a beautiful contradiction of its words and experimental noise-rock, is untouchably unique to wilco. the voice does upend the indulgence of sound if you care to care. i do. it was serious heat.

two songs later, the political season and perhaps the environment they were performing in elicited the woody guthrie penned, christ for president. it seemed too right not to oblige this politically holy comedy. another two songs passed and we found ourselves face to face with kicking television. abrasive as this cascading rocker is, it's hurricane of kicking ass wins you over. sometimes you need to  raise a raucous and be done with it. they closed it down with a saloon style dreamer in my dreams. the night felt good, the band was hot, the setting was just right and we were getting after it with friends.

"i said it last night, i'll say it again tonight, best rock audiences in the world. right here... but you guys invented it, you invented rock concerts. and we appreciate that, we thank you for that. it's like deep cuts, no problem, we're with ya buddy. ya make bands feel good. and a lot of the bands don't deserve to feel good. that's their problem, not yours."
                                                                          - jeff tweedy 

it's that mindfulness that helps me connect to his words and stay honest to being perceptive. thanks to all of the great fans in the bay area, across the globe and the bands that bring out the best in all of us!

click here for night 1 set list

click here for night 2 set list

Wilco Via Chicago 09/22/12
Live from the Greek Theatre in Berkeley


Friday, September 21, 2012

CA to MN... and everything in between!

sorry for the MIA results late in the summer, which has been beautiful (and dry in many places). there's always a glimmer of time to catch your breath, this may be that time.

first off, i was fortunate enough to spend some time along the pit river in northern california. having not been there before, i found the mountain and riparian ecosystems to be gorgeous and untouched. there were some amazing butterflies throughout the different sites i was working with, not to mention the secret swimming hole scattered here and there. it was an interesting time to be in the burney area during a fire season in which CalFire showed how incredibly valuable they are. thanks to all of the firefighters who risk it all to help us fellow citizens. it was cool, literally and figuratively, to absorb burney falls. it's a wonderful force of river dynamics and hydraulics. the woderfully cooling mist created by this working system allows for a lush ecotone within a seasonally dry area. if you're ever traveling on highway 299 hit up the alpine drive in, great burgers and fries. amidst a busy work schedule we also made a trip to see our new little cousin in santa cruz. the following week we played host to our amazing younger sister. one of the highlights for me was kicking it with her at lake tahoe. i'm pretty sure the three of us were digging on chimney beach like no other.

     after a busy five weeks it was off to minneapolis, the mississippi and then  onto my good friends wedding, which was set amidst a lovely back drop of rolling agricultural hills and natural standing tree lines near the iowa border. i was reinvigorated by the vibe of the twin cities, as well as, the beauty of the drift less area encompassing lake pepin on the mississippi. if you're ever chill'n in the lake city marina area i recommend grabbing some papa tronnio's pizza or doing some good old fashion bowling at port 104, drinks are super cheap and the fun is super clean. lake city is beautiful. if you adventure elsewhere along the river, check out read's landing brewery for a strong beer menu, tasty food and some local history. also, you must definitely afford yourself the opportunity to eat at the harbor view, on the wisconsin side of the river, they have outstanding food, mmm.

     while back in minneapolis i saw some friends who always allow me to have a good time and to be myself. whether i was crashing at the house of the groom to be, digging for goodies at the electric fetus, dancing to antibalas at first avenue, destroying a juicy lucy at matt's bar, re-visiting the Guthrie, falling in transit love with the light rail or sip'n on a bells beer from michigan, i thoroughly enjoyed the different neighborhoods i hit up. by the way, bell's brewery kicks out some rad suds, their oberon and the two hearted IPA were my personal favorites! if you're near the uptown district i suggest perusing the confines of everyday people and the corner store, for chances at an awesome second hand score. when you've started to become hungry, grab some amazing ethnic food on 27th. definitely give peninsula your business, it's so damn good, best malaysian food i've ever had in the midwest.

     Since returning to california however, i realize how much that this western state feels like home. i'm always glad to be back when touching down on the golden state. we'll soon be hitting up a wilco show at the greek, should be awesome. in the mean time, you all have to check out the debut album of matthew e. white. it's titled, the big inner and is the inaugural launch from his own spacebomb records. white has a lot going on in this stunning yet simply written path of songs that feel instantly like old favorites. there's a melting pot of great influences rambling around in this seven song gem. regardless of who comes to mind, his craft for the song, mixed with his willingness to share the glory, make this one of the best albums of the year. check it out. thanks to the guys at the last record store. also, the first 2,000 copies are hand numbered and come with an embossed letter that is hand signed. this singer/song writer, along with his fellow "villagers" are producing stories and sounds that richmond virginia should be proud of. give it a listen, tracks i've been groove'n on are: one of these days, big love & hot toddies.

thanks to all of those who made the last six plus weeks a real journey. it fed my heart, my mind and brought me to some revelatory places. here's to flipping kayaks, racing pelicans and the triumphant bond of two immensely beautiful people getting married, cheers to the burke couple!

be here now,

ps. a special thanks to all of our amazing friends who looked after Mr. Salty, tended the homestead and reaffirmed the strong community we have here in california. much love and many thanks!