RECAP / PHOTOS: Wilco @ The Bushnell, Hartford, CT 8/1/12

It was a rainy and muggy Wednesday over Hartford, so thankfully Wilco would be playing INSIDE at The Bushnell in Hartford on this otherwise ordinary evening.

Across town at The Arch Street Tavern, Nectar’s Presents welcomed folk/rock duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion for the OFFICIAL Wilco AfterParty! Little did many know, Wilco members, John Stirratt and Pat Sansone, will be sitting in on this set just after their own performance!

As I have mentioned many times before, I have lived in CT for the majority of my life. Outside of a quick year working within it, I had only come to The Bushnell a handful of other times for Broadway shows and mostly high school graduation commencements. Wilco would be the first rock show I have seen under this very historic roof. In making my way down to my velvet lined seat, the Lee Ranaldo Band was on stage. Yes, Lee Ranaldo…one of the founding members of the amazing Sonic Youth. The sound was absolutely amazing and the stage was draped in what appeared to be ghosts made of white linen; the kind one might make with old pillow cases around Halloween time.

During “intermission” (as they call it in theater talk), the fella sitting behind me was talking with his friend about the make-up of what sounded like a local band he knows. It’s funny to me that no matter your age or what you listen to, if you like (good) music, you learn the interconnected ways in which your favorite musicians come to be and how bands are born. “And the guy from this band sat in with that band at this festival….yada, yada, yada….” Ironically, Guthrie and Irion have a bit of history with Wilco. Aside from having Jeff Tweedy produce their forthcoming album, the duo recently joined John and Pat on tour with their side project, The Autumn Defense. Thanks to some great minds up in Burlington, VT…BOOM: another great evening of music in Hartford!

As they talked about “absorbing influences” from different genres and about how some people can get ripped off when others “steal” their ideas, there I was feeding off of their ideas for my own purpose–to connect the storyboard. I suppose all music, and art in general for that matter, comes from some form of inspiration. And bands are born from all kinds of different interactions. And as I thought about it waiting for my first Wilco experience to begin, Guthrie and Irion sat down right in front of me to absorb some inspiration of their own!

From the moment Wilco started, it became very clear to me why they have such an amazing following. I can’t lie. I never really was turned on by them. I mean, sure, they have great songs that I wouldn’t skip over on Spotify radio, but nothing ever created a true spark for me. It wasn’t any one thing that turned me off. If I had to choose one thing, it may have been the pressure from my friends that liked the band that turned me off. “WHAT!? YOU DON’T LIKE WILCO?! You are CRAZY!!” They just didn’t speak to me in the same way as other artists did or do. But, as tonight proves, there are those bands that you just need to experience live to even remotely understand or scratch the surface

With blinking owls on stage, cool hats on their heads (OK just Tweedy did), amazing lights illuminating the cloth ghost things…they put on an amazing show visually and musically…

My new-found love for this band was influenced by lovers dancing to an intimate moment of a song, 40 year old wanna-be musicians air drumming/guitar-ing/what have you and bodies dancing up and down the aisles of the theater, despite the security guards. “A concentration of guys wearing canary yellow is never a good thing,” says Tweedy. “Spread out, it’s OK. But if they are together, something bad is afoot.” The guards stood down just after that proclamation. No one was here to act up…

The show went on for just over two full hours to include two encore sets. They played some of the songs I actually did know and enjoy; “Capitol City”, “A Shot in the Arm” and “Via Chicago.”

Once the show broke, I hoofed it over to the Arch Street Tavern for part two of the evening. Guthrie and Irion’s performance was a beautiful calm after the storm. And by storm, I mean rock show. Being the daughter of Arlo and granddaughter of Woody, Sarah Lee has good music literally running through her veins. Her voice was just lovely and Johnny’s harmony and guitar complimented her perfectly. I was looking forward to the moment when “these guys from that band sit in with this band here.”

with John Stirratt and Patrick Sansone of WilcoAs the room filled in, I was able to have a quick chat with John Stirratt (Wilco’s bassist) before he hopped on stage to join in on the mini-reunion of sorts. He was beyond pleased with the show at The Bushnell and openly admitted that “so far this tour, Hartford had the best rhythm.” An old high school friend of mine was there with his father. And they have seen 22 Wilco shows together and of those 22 shows, they even confirmed that this was the best show that they had seen. THAT was music to my ears! Not just good shows, but amazing shows that even the bands thrive off of are what thrill me. And all of these pieces of the evening put together made it one of the best nights of music I have had in a long time. What won me over RE: Wilco? Mainly, the insane intensity in which each musician put forth during their performance. That, and Jeff Tweedy was wearing a Wilco shirt!

It was an incredible experience all around! I was able to shake hands and speak with some of the members of Wilco, I was able to see an amazing third generation folk singer and I have officially become a Wilco fan. I walked away with a much better understanding of what they were all about and with some shiny new vinyl, too!!

WILCO @ The Bushnell, Hartford CT, 8.1.2012
Poor Places
Art Of Almost
I Might
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Pot Kettle Black
Side With The Seeds
Rising Red Lung
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Impossible Germany
Born Alone
Laminated Cat (Loose Fur cover)
Radio Cure
Too Far Apart
Capitol City
Handshake Drugs
Whole Love
I’m Always In Love
Dawned On Me
A Shot in the Arm

Via Chicago
Hate It Here
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m the Man Who Loves You

Encore 2:
The Late Greats
Outtasite (Outta Mind)