Blog Concert Review

An Evening With Wilco

I first heard of Wilco when I was about fifteen years old. 

At this age, I was meeting with a weekly writing workshop to share our own work and discuss the work of those we admired. We would print out poems and short stories to pour over and pick apart. Our small group was led by the local author Frances O’Roark Dowell, who still to this day provides me with a fountain of wisdom and inspiration.

One summer day, Frances brought the lyrics from Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” She handed out the printed sheets of paper and we took a moment to read.

I remember vividly sitting, awestruck, coffee condensation dripping between my hands, staring at the lines “Disposable Dixie-cup drinking / I assassin down the avenue,” trying to comprehend the sheer genius of what I was reading. 

Frances said something along the lines of, this band is great. Jeff Tweedy is a poet. And she wasn’t kidding. 

Much of the appeal of Wilco to me is in this sheer poetry. In lines like “She’s a jar / With a heavy lid / My pop quiz kid / A sleepy kisser,” and “I cry like a window pane,” I fell harder and harder in love, carrying these songs with me everywhere like little perfect good luck charms. 

So, when it was announced that Wilco would be at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, I jumped at the chance. 

My dad and I arrived early enough to set up our beach chairs on the green lawn of the museum amphitheater, buzzing with our love for the band, talking about what songs we were excited to hear with beers and salted pretzels in hand.

The moment Tweedy came on stage the sun was slung low in the sky. His touring bandmates Nells Cline, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen and Pat Sansone followed behind. 

They opened with the song “Infinite Surprise,” from the 2023 album “Cousins,” and instantly, the crowd was enthralled. Composed of mostly older hippies and parents with their kids, there was a comfortable energy in the air, with the show feeling like a sleepaway camp bonfire performance or a small, intimate coffee shop show and not a 1,200 person sold-out concert. 

We were thrilled to hear “Handshake Drugs,” “I’m Always in Love,” “Impossible Germany,” and my personal favorite, “Box Full of Letters.”

the crowd settling in as the sun set

Tweedy, in his ever-poetic nature, recalled playing at the NCMA amphitheater when there were no trees at all, and being heartened that they now reached far up into the night. He said that he would keep on coming to the museum to see how they would continue to grow.

After the show, driving home, I felt deeply that I had just been to a once-in-a-lifetime show. My love for Wilco had only grown, like the trees Tweedy admired, and I went to bed humming the riff from “Jesus, Etc;”.

By Wordgirl

Between her time making playlists for future DJ sets, Wordgirl loves to watch movies and read books. You can find her hanging out with her cat, Mouse, and playing music too loud in her headphones.