By Joshua Mellin | July 11th, 2012
Wilco continues to add to their myth. Their headlining gig this past Sunday at Kane County Cougars Ballpark in Geneva, IL was not only their largest ever, but featured fellow hometown hero Andrew Bird as well.
That night, Wilco again proved why they’re the greatest American band. From playing the defunct Lounge Ax on Lincoln Avenue where Jeff met his wife (club owner Sue Miller), to recording their live album Kicking Television at the storied Vic Theater in 2005, from playing a residency at the Riviera (where they played every song they’d ever recorded) to playing a shrinking tour of the city at progressively smaller venues, it seems Wilco has finally become the signature face of Chicago rock.
Local radio personality Marty Lennartz from 93 XRT (who sponsored the show in honor of their 40th anniversary), introduced the bands and aptly described Bird as a 6-tool utility player, and Wilco as the heavy hitters in the middle of the this double-header bill.
Andrew Bird opened the evening with a set heavy on his popular tracks. Playing along with his band, he picked a great deal from his superb new album Break It Yourself.
Wilco’s set featured several treats, such as a special acoustic arrangement of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” (something they debuted at the tiny 500-person Lincoln Hall in December). A few years ago they may have played a song like this or “Kingpin” to stretch out a set, but with lengthy standards like the sprawling “Impossible Germany” to fit every night, there’s simply no time for that.
Also featured, “Laminated Cat (aka Not For The Season),” a former rarity popularized by the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot demos that has become a show staple as of late. During the tightly packed set, Andrew Bird joined them, playing violin on “Jesus, Etc.” before later joining them during the second encore to assist on “California Stars,” dedicated to Woody Guthrie in honor of what would have been his upcoming 100th birthday next week.
The first encore featured a poignant take on “Via Chicago” (it’s always nice to hear a few thousand people sing along the opening lines “I dreamt about killing you again last night”), a blistering “Art of Almost,” before a buzzing “Standing O” and another sing-a-long standard, “Shot in The Arm.”
Closing the night with “The Late Greats” and “Hoodoo Voodoo,” the band left their largest audience ever completely fulfilled with an impressive fireworks display.
The Wilco legend continues this September when they headline the tiny Hideout’s Block Party in Chicago on September 14 & 15.