In 2002, Jeff Tweedy and his Wilco brethren kicked off the tour for their massively successful album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in Bloomington, IN. Ironically enough, Wilco decided to once again launch a tour for an LP in Indiana, albeit this time it was 60 miles to the north in Indianapolis for their soon-to-be released record, The Whole Love. Could it be the Chicago/ Midwest connection that drives this? Who cares, it’s WILCO! This show also marks the first I’ve attended at the Murat since July’s nearly indescribable Bon Iver performance, but every time I’m inside I’m amazed by the theater’s ambiance and ornate architecture. Fellow Hoosiers, next time you are sitting inside the Murat, do yourself a service and look up!
The clock struck nine and everyone in the Murat Theater (now dubbed as the laughable “Old National Center”) was becoming restless. The opener, Nick Lowe, finished his set about ten minutes prior and the crowd was aching for more tunes after being left dumbfounded from performances of “Cruel to be Kind” and “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.” I couldn’t have been happier when we decided to forget about the “one more drink before the show” and opted to head straight inside to catch the end of Nick Lowe’s set. Showing a sign of my age, I was really only familiar with Nick’s work through cover songs, but now his name is firmly cemented in my brain.
Alas, at about twenty past nine Wilco took the stage opening with the brand new, and outrageously kick-ass track, “Art of Almost.” If any cut from The Whole Love is going to become a set-list staple on The Whole Love‘s tour, it’s this one. Immediately after they finished this song, Tweedy addressed the crowd and promised it would be, “SO much better in a week.” I find that hard to believe, Wilco, very hard to believe, indeed. I was unsure at the time how much new material was played on Tuesday night, and quite honestly the thought never really crossed my mind, old favorites like “Misunderstood” “Handshake Drugs” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You” were perfectly delivered and woven brilliantly in and around the unfamiliar tunes to keep us all thoroughly entertained.
I’ve been a Wilco fan for a while now and am embarrassed to say that this was the first time I’d ever seen them. What’s my excuse, you may ask? I opted for Rage Against the Machine in 2008 instead of Tweedy & the boys at a festival; fair trade if you ask me. All tangents aside, if I had to describe the feeling that was invoked throughout the night, it would be comfort. It wasn’t just the warmth from the whiskey flowing over me, I swear; Wilco projects a sense of intimacy and confidence that swallows the audience whole and wraps around you like your favorite childhood blanket. There was never a lull in the night as every song you wanted to hear was played, except, “Heavy Metal Drummer,” but maybe that’s asking for too much. I’m supremely pleased with the show my fair city received this past Tuesday, and hopefully we can all catch Wilco on the festival circuit again this year. After all, they haven’t played Coachella since my birthday in 2005, see you in the polo fields, guys?