Saturday night was one of those times when the convergence of Wilco, Chicago and WXRT came together for another unforgettable hometown concert experience, not only for the people in the seats, but also for the multitudes of Wilco fans listening to the live concert broadcast on XRT.
Wilco Winterlude 2017, the band’s historic four night February residency at the Chicago Theatre was the first time Wilco ever played the historic venue.
Saturday night on State Street with the iconic Chicago Theatre marquee reading: “JAM & 93XRT WELCOME WILCO” was a thrilling sight for Wilco fans who packed the place for the third of four sold out shows.
I had the honor of going out on stage before the show to welcome the crowd and let them know the show would be a live radio broadcast. I could tell the audience was already primed and ready to go.
The show started with Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline on stage alone for an intimate version of Normal American Kids followed by the rest of the band coming out for two more songs from Wilco’s latest album Schmilco. From there the show took off with songs from almost every record with a little more emphasis on their second album, Being There.
Highlights included Clines’ million note guitar solo on Impossible Germany, the four song grouping of Dawned On Me, Theologians, Via Chicago (always great to hear in Chicago!) and Jesus, Etc complete with a full house sing-a-long where Jeff challenged the crowd to sing by saying they needed to sound more like a Friday night audience.
Jeff was in fine form between songs describing his guitar to the radio audience as made out of mulch molded into the shape of Rodan’s The Thinker. He wore a T-shirt with the message, “We’re All In This Together” saying except for Trump. “He’s A Dick!” Judging by the response, that sentiment was shared by the crowd.
The encores brought a Being There triplet and ended with what a listener on Twitter described as a transcendent version of Spiders (Kidsmoke) that lifted the kraut rock jam off the Autobon, dropping it onto I94 on the way to Michigan.
It was so much fun to be there and to host the show live on the radio and Internet. Via Twitter we heard from people all over the country who spent the night at home chilling with the their favorite Chicago band. It was the seventh XRT Live Broadcast Special of a Wilco show going back to 1996. I’ve been lucky enough to host the last four. I can’t wait ’til we do it again.