Wilco: Shut the F- Up

The Fox Theater
Oakland, CA
January 31, 2012

Wilco: Shut the Fuck Up

There was a moment during Wilco's sold-out performance at the Fox that seemed to epitomize the band's ethos and music. Lead singer, writer, producer, all-round revolutionary and renaissance man, Jeff Tweedy, took the mic between songs and said: "We were looking around this beautiful room and we thought we should play all our tender and beautiful songs. But, we came out here and it seems like you all want to rock. But we're going to play our tender and beautiful songs anyway
because otherwise we wouldn't be true to ourselves. So, shut the fuck up." The crowd laughed and, after the following song, he apologized for telling everyone to shut the fuck up saying, "I don't know what got into me."

Wilco has long traded on Tweedy's unyielding artistic integrity and his beautiful and tender songs for both good and bad. He pens some of the most literate, melodic songs that you'll find anywhere. Catchy, intelligent, seriously good music. At the same time, he can indulge himself way too much at the expense of his fans. Wilco's new album, "The Whole Love," has been
characterized as "wildly experimental" which can also be read as "wildly weird" or, maybe,
"wildly indulgent." It gets to be called 'experimental' because Tweedy has a lot of spare artistic cred among the music cognoscenti. His plaintive, distinctive singing style and relaxed melodies leave little to dislike about Wilco.

There was also little to dislike about their performance. I think Wilco's live performances are a bit overrated but they put in a solid show last night including a good mix of old and new. The sound at the Fox continues to be sporadic. At times, it sounded muddy or closed in. You need to move around to find a good spot. This continues to be a source of disappointment for such a premier venue. There is no acceptable excuse for there to be anything less than crystal clear sound at a concert with all the sophisticated technology available. If the sound is no better than my computer speakers at home, why am I at the show?

Nevertheless, despite the flaws, the show gets two thumbs-up. Wilco's music is always interesting and fun and they also had a great light show. The stage was backed by several columns of ropes with randomly spaced white knots, like large dishrags tied to a rope. The white knots caught the colorful beams of light creating a psychedelic effect. Overall, a good start to 2012.

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