Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy One Year: Wilco Played Bend, OR

UPDATE: Show now available for download on etree!

While you may not have noticed among all of the Outside Lands hoopla, last weekend marked the one year anniversary of Hippies Are Dead! It's been a great year, and things have really grown both around here, and in the San Francisco music scene. You may remember that the first gig we ever covered was when Wilco played the Greek Theater last year. As such, in honor of our one year anniversary, we sent a crack-commando team up to Bend, Oregon to cover the band's final show with Fleet Foxes. But first, let us say this: Bend, Oregon may seem far away, but if you have an opportunity to go see a show there, do it. Not only is it a beautiful drive, but the destination you arrive at is awesome as well. The venue (Les Schwab Amphitheatre) is a delightful outdoor venue that doubles as a public park in the off season. The crowd is super-chill, and you really couldn't ask for a better concert going experience.

Fleet Foxes started off the night with a superb opening set. The band has been getting a fair amount of hype lately, and we were curious to see if it was deserved. Apparently, yes, very much so. The band offered up a set that was marked by tight vocal harmonies, solid instrumentation, and a background in the roots of folk americana. Their set was a great compliment to Wilco's, as they offered up tunes in the same "neighborhood" as Wilco, but from a very different perspective. A good deal of their ethereal, rhythmic, folk reminded us of Vetiver. If you're curious to check out the band for yourself, you'll have to finagle a ticket to their sold out show at The Independent on September 19th.

As Wilco took the stage, it seemed clear that we were in for a treat of a show. The band appeared to be in great spirits, and was clearly embracing the proximity to the crowd. The relaxed atmosphere meant that there were families right up front, and before commencing, Tweedy checked in with the youngins' to make sure all was cool.

The set was definitely of a different flavor from last year's show at the Greek. While that show was clearly focused on Sky Blue Sky, this show had a much more balanced feel. It grabbed tunes from all over the band's catalogue, and did them all justice. Moreover, the arrangements seemed natural and easy for the band, allowing for a wide range of soloing and improvisation. No doubt this was partially the result of the band having recently played their full catalogue at a series of Chicago shows. While the entire set was fantastic, we did have our favorite moments. In particular, it was great to hear the Monday/Outtasite (Outtamind) encore, and a good number of picks from Mermaid Avenue.

For us, this show really brought to light that Wilco has found balance as a band. Whereas the past few tours have been heavy on the prog/guitar elements, and the tours prior to that had more of an emphasis on rock and folk influences, this one seems to be comfortable in both quadrants. The band is still experimenting and pushing musical boundries, but at the same time, they're realizing the fun and appeal of being a singable, melodic, rock band. The combination of the two provides a live experience that is simply unparalleled.

For the close of the set, Fleet Foxes returned to the stage for a killer version of "I Shall Be Released" (video from the Spokane, WA date here). We've seen Wilco cover this tune a number of times, and we have to say that this version slayed them all. The guys in Fleet Foxes really have some amazing vocals going on that cemented this cover version firmly in place. It was clear that these bands have felt a lot of camaraderie touring together, and were really loving making some music. It was a great way to close out a tour, an awesome evening, and the first year of Hippies Are Dead!

Many more photos at the HAD Archive

1. You Are My Face
2. Hummingbird
3. Muzzle Of Bees
4. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
5. Handshake Drugs
6. War On War
7. Jesus, Etc.
8. Impossible Germany
9. One By One
10. California Stars
11. Forget The Flowers
12. Summer Teeth
13. A Shot In The Arm
14. Theologians
15. I'm The Man Who Loves You
16. Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Encore 1:
17. Via Chicago
18. Passenger Side
19. Kingpin
20. Heavy Metal Drummer

Encore 2:
21. Hate It Here
22. Walken
23. Monday
24. Outtasite (Outta Mind)
25. Hoodoo Voodoo
26. I Shall Be Released (w/ Fleet Foxes on vocals)


Andrea said...

Congrats on the 1 year mark! I am glad you are around!

That last Wilco pic is lovely ~ love flare.