Wilco & Steve Gunn – DAR Constitution Hall – Washington, DC – February 7, 2016
I never even felt the littlest bit like there was a choice — live music would always win out over pigskin, especially when the live experience is in the form of Wilco. Certainly one of the finest modern rock outfits, the Chicago-based six-piece delivered a fine night of music at Washington, D.C.’s D.A.R. Constitution Hall.
The sound of the 20+ year old band was exquisite, booming about the gorgeous room with rock perfection. Band-leader Jeff Tweedy was in a garrulous mood. Declaring that seeing a show on such a “holiday” is like being of the Jewish faith and eating Chinese and seeing a movie on Christmas, he knew how special it was to easily sell out a show on Super Bowl Sunday.
As they have been doing since their surprise release of the superb 2015 LP Star Wars, Wilco played the album in its entirety to begin the night (with the exception of the opening rock instrumental track “EKG,” during which the band enters the stage). The album, arguably their best in over a decade, is a true spectacle for the ears and eyes live. Songs like “Random Name Generator” and “You Satellite” are awesome to hear in their album context.
Wilco then took nary a break after the completion of Star Wars. On Sunday they ripped right into “Handshake Drugs” and their hits collection, or as Tweedy called it, their own “halftime show” featured one stellar song after another. Highlights included “Camera” and one of their best, “Sunken Treasure.” To witness Nels Cline destroy “Impossible Germany” with a solo second to none and have Pat Sansone seriously rock out on “Box Full of Letters” is always so very satisfying. Two encores followed, with their brilliant “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” engulfing the first and an acoustic set closing the night out. To hear “Misunderstood” and “War on War,” among others, with an unplugged feel is a joy for the ears.
They saved their best for last with an acoustic cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Tweedy and John Stirratt took up the vocals with a clarity that hauntingly echo Bowie’s original. Add in the percussion of Glenn Kotche and the other rhythms of Mikael Jorgensen in addition to Cline and Sansone and you have the best modern Bowie cover around.
The crowd, which cheered and clapped at all the right moments, was among one of the best I have encountered in some time. And the band showed why they deserve such fans as they deliver a live musical experience that keeps getting better with each passing year.
Philly native Steve Gunn opened. Each of his songs seemed to have been birthed by the Grateful Dead while his own singular guitar artistry catapults the music to life.
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 10, 2016.
Photos by Chris Sikich © 2016