I’m ashamed at the infrequency with which I’ve been blogging, but in my defense, I’ve had quite a few things going on in my life these days. I think my days seem to be getting somewhat back to normal, and that means you get a better return to the good ol’ days of reading my random musings three times a week.
So, I apologize for the delays, and I hope you’ll forgive me.
I recently returned from Nashville, where I saw Wilco perform at the historic Ryman Auditorium (I’m not sure you can refer to it without calling it “historic;” you have to pay some sort of Nashville tax if you don’t). While it wasn’t my favorite Wilco show I’ve seen, I have to say the band has never sounded better.
Some of that, I’m sure is due to the amazing acoustic at the Ryman – excuse me, the historic Ryman – while another part likely came from the fact the band was recording the show, hopefully for a DVD release (that’s my dream, at least).
Why wasn’t it the best of the shows, given that they sounded so great?
Honestly, the crowd sucked.
I understand that it’s a rock concert and that you’re supposed to be loud and such, but there are times when the band calls for quiet, intimate moments and needs the audience to respect the music. For some reason, this never seems to happen at Wilco shows.
In 2005, some jackass in Cincinnati kept yelling “turn up Jeff’s guitar” during the quiet beginning of “At Least That’s What You Said,” a soft, contemplative number that deals, in part, with domestic abuse. Jeff’s guitar was fine, and the only reason it might have needed to be turned up was to drown out Loudy McLouderson shouting for the extra amplification.
That guy would have been right at home in Nashville.
We had fantastic seats in Row T, and while we had an excellent view, we were too far from the stage for the band to actually hear us as individuals. Too bad the Extremely Drunk and Loud Girl five seats down from us could not comprehend this. During every quiet moment between songs, she would yell “Play ‘Tell My Brother,’” a song so obscure that I’m not sure if it’s a Wilco B-side, a Tweedy solo project or a figment of her drunken imagination.
During situations like this, the crowd will sometimes police itself, encouraging loud viewers to shut the hell right on up. Oh, not so here. Her friends/family thought her antics were the high point of comedy, egging her on throughout the night.
She later got vocal company from a bunch of idiots who couldn’t grasp the fact that a beautiful concert moment was unfolding in front of them. For the first encore, Tweedy came back sans band, bringing along only his guitar and opting to play without a microphone or any amplification. Very few venues have acoustics good enough for this, but the historic Ryman is one of the top spots in the world, so Tweedy did his thing, his raw vocals nearly killing me with the passion and emotion.
A few audience members, however, failed to realize the need for silence as he played. Whenever he would hit a lull between verses, some morons would hoot and holler, causing others to giggle. This went on throughout the whole song until finally one guy had enough and yelled “Shut your fuckin’ mouths.”
And they did.
Only Tweedy was finished with the song, and the moment was over.
To be fair, they weren’t the only idiots in the audience. There were far too many people wearing Wilco shirts to a Wilco show, which is a major concert no-no. Some people appeared bored, like the girl in front of me who played on her iPhone all night.
Maybe I’m just getting old (OK, that’s true), but really, is it too much to ask people to realize goodness when it’s right in front of them? I should probably cut them some slack, though.
After all, we were in Tennessee.