Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wilco, Feb. 2005


Fresh from their double Grammy win, the members of Wilco took the stage Wednesday night at the 9:30 club to prove that the mainstream isn't such a bad place to be.

They were preaching to the converted, of course. A sold-out house welcomed Chicago's roots-rockers with the adulation they deserved, and they obliged with powerful music. It was a classier production than the one at the Staples Center in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago. Heck, they even had a slide show of Bollywood-hued butterflies and bees and flowers. Their sound, too resolute to be quite psychedelic, nevertheless had a trippy edge that made the pretty pictures redundant.

Though frontman Tweedy impishly described the lyrics of one song as "a bunch of sensitive crap that makes it sound real," he relied more on his soft, husky voice for pathos. Around him, the band was busy creating landscape after landscape: setting up silences to splash with bursts of guitars, building up a patina of strings and keyboards. Loud never sounded so good at the 9:30.

Openers Detholz! (that exclamation point is part of the name) didn't always sound good, but the group got the loud part right -- and scored with a raucous, polka-meets-grunge-and-blood-splatters version of "Ring of Fire" that was nothing if not original.

-- Pamela Murray Winters

Washington Post, Friday, February 25, 2005; Page C04

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