Red Butte Gardens
The night began well, with a short (only about 30 minutes), but powerful set by Fleet Foxes, whose sound meshed well with what Wilco would bring later and set the overall tone for the evening. As I stood in line to pick up some Wilco merch, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold belted out their Seattle-brand folk/indie rock to much applause and caught my ear, even as I focused upon my Wilco purchasing options.
Wilco (courtesy of myspace.com/wilco)
As I walked back to where I was “seated,” I took special notice of the venue and the vibe it provided since it was my first time attending it. I’d read that a lot of work had been done on it for this concert season (it is an outdoor, seasonal venue) and though I had nothing prior to compare it to, I was nonetheless impressed. The stage faced the lawn, which sloped down, creating an amphitheatre setting and a relaxed feel. Innumerable people sprawled-out on blankets with their coolers full of beverages-of-choice as well as food. In a lot of ways it felt like a mass barbeque or picnic, only with better entertainment than most barbeques or picnics.
The heat of the setting sun was warm enough to cause slight perspiration, subsequently cooled by the refreshing evening breeze as Wilco took the stage and began to hypnotize the audience with their unique brand of alt-country and rock.
The diverse sold out crowd – both young and old and from tattoos and piercings to button-up shirts and from Dockers to cowboy hats – all of whom lay on blankets or sat in ground-level lawn chairs were immediately enthralled and soothed by Jeff Tweedy and company’s first song, “Remember the Mountain Bed,” a ballad filled with beautiful poetry and imagery, with lyrics written by Woody Guthrie.
From the conclusion of the first song and on, Wilco ran through a large catalogue of songs, some mellow and some with edge, allowing different tastes from a wide fanbase to be satisfied and making it hard for anyone in attendance to complain that they didn’t hear, “Their song.”
Tweedy’s banter with the crowd was amusing and kept all entertained between performing songs and instrument changes. He joked about wishing that he had long Fabio-like hair so that it would blow with the constant cool breeze as they played, which received a healthy laugh from the audience. Tweedy also admitted they were giving the show their all since they don’t play Salt Lake City very often, to which the fans let out a roar in agreement, begging for them to come more frequently.
After a lengthy set list and two encores, which included an obvious favorite among those in attendance, “Heavy Metal Drummer,” Wilco called it a night, thanked the crowd once more and ventured off the stage, leaving the audience satisfied enough to go home happy, but still hungry enough to come back for the next sold out show.