Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Wilco- First Avenue, June 30, 2001: 20 Years Ago!


It's amazing what a year makes. With the vaccines for COVID-19 being distributed as we speak, music tour scheduling is starting to ramp up, especially south of the border in the U.S. Here in Canada, concerts and tours are much more pared down with the restrictions province to province slowly loosening. There are some small shows and bigger tour dates that are proceeding with selling tickets again for concerts in the fall. For a band like Wilco, they have recently added more shows to their schedule with already about 40 dates from August until late October, so far. A lot of those dates are make-up shows for ones that were postponed last spring and a proposed tour with Sleater-Kinney for last summer is going ahead in August. I would love to see Wilco with the Young Fresh Fellows for a bunch of shows in October on the U.S. west coast! Since the Canada/U.S. border is still closed, I don't want to take the gamble of buying a ticket and not being able to travel due a continued closure or a possible 4th wave. I will have to be content this summer watching and listening from afar, hopefully a lot of  live shows will be recorded and shared.

One of my favourite places to travel to for concerts is the closest large city, about a 7 hour drive to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). I've seen lots of amazing shows at various venues and it's an opportunity to see bands that normally don't make it to my neck of the woods. The last time we made the trek was to see the Posies three years ago at the Turf Club in St. Paul and unfortunately due to this pandemic we haven't been back since. It seems the time of year we end up in the Twin Cities is around this time, June/early July and I've noticed there are plenty of cool shows there booked now. The trip 20 years ago to see Wilco was one of my most memorable concert trips. I normally don't travel alone, but this was one of those pilgrimages I wanted to experience, to attend both nights and indulge myself in record store shopping nirvana that is sometimes best to partake alone.

The second night of the two night stand for Wilco was even better than the night before. The band seemed more comfortable with the new material and the set included a few more songs from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot they debuted. They opened with the chill, Via Chicago to ease into the show, the previous night they opened with Misunderstood that crescendo-ed with Jeff shouting "nothing" so many times I thought he would blow his voice or a blood vessel. One of the reasons the second night has the potential to be an even better show, is that if the band is feeling good, extra encores are possible. No resting up for the next night. The highlight was definitely the three encores, the band was on fire and the crowd was very appreciative (and polite), they didn't want the concert to end. Wow!
A couple more notes:
  • Viovoom, a band fronted by Jessy Greene opened both nights. It was appropriate as Jessy has performed with Golden Smog (Tweedy was in that band) and locally was a member of the Jayhawks. It was a treat to see her on stage with Wilco during Jesus, Etc, since she played violin on the recording for YHF. I've always love Jessy, she adds so much to the sound of GS/Jayhawks and her solo material is really good. A very underrated talent! (I recorded their set both nights as well and the sound quality is better thanks to less crowd chatter.)
  • This was guitarist, Jay Bennett's last club show. As I mentioned in the last post he played two more outdoor shows including his final show for the 4th of July show in Chicago. I sensed some un-comfortableness with Jay on stage and his interaction with Leroy Bach when they both played keyboards side by side. I thought it was nothing, but...
  • The lineup onstage for Wilco these two nights was Jeff Tweedy, Jay Bennett, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche and Leroy Bach. This exact lineup only played 4 shows together. (correct me if I'm wrong)
  • The First Avenue is one of those venues that is a must-see if you visit Minneapolis. There have been many classic shows there and I've seen a bunch of good ones. The sight-lines aren't great, as I've watched all the shows on the floor, but the sound has always been decent. My most vivid memory (of the shows I've been at 10 years ago and earlier) is that people just drop their beer bottles on the ground, so the floor is covered in pools of beer and broken glass. Is that still a "thing" there? or anywhere else??


Please do NOT sell or profit from this recording!
Do NOT convert to lossy formats, except for personal use
Please share!
See Wilco on tour and buy their records!

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
June 30, 2001

AUD Master

01. Via Chicago / A Shot In The Arm
02. I'm Always In Love
03. War On War
04. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
05. Hesitating Beauty
06. Remember The Mountain Bed
07. Airline To Heaven
08. Feed Of Man
09. She's A Jar
10. Ashes Of American Flags
11. Kamera
12. How To Fight Loneliness
13. California Stars
14. Red-Eyed And Blue / I Got You (At the End Of The Century)

15. Misunderstood
16. Jesus, Etc.
17. Sunken Treasure

Encore 2:
18. Reservations
19. Passenger Side
20. Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Encore 3:
21. Forget The Flowers
22. Monday
23. Casino Queen

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Wilco- First Avenue, June 29, 2001: 20 Years Ago!

It's hard to believe it's been almost 20 years since the release of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the fourth album from Wilco. The story behind the recording of the album and the complicated mess surrounding it's release was beautifully documented in the film, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco directed by Sam Jones and the excellent book, Wilco: Learning How To Die by Greg Kot. I read and watched both and it gives you the inside story and circumstances behind YHF. A quick recap: the album was recorded in late 2000 and early 2001, Glenn Kotche (new drummer) joins the band for the recording, personality struggles and power battles ensue between Jeff and Jay, Jay Bennett is fired from the band, Reprise Records (the band's label) rejects the album, Wilco subsequently acquires the rights of the record, Wilco streams the entire album for free on their website on September 18, 2001 (the original date the album was suppose to be officially released), the album is officially (retail) released by Nonesuch Records on April 23, 2002. The result: the band's website on September 18 received over 50,000 hits to stream the record, the album was critically acclaimed placing it on many "best of" lists for the year, the decade and all-time, it is Wilco's best selling work and considered by many their "masterpiece".

I was one of those people that streamed the album on Wilco's site, but I had already listened to tracks from file sharing networks, as well as unreleased outtakes and alternative versions of the songs. Reminiscing about this album was special for another reason. I road-tripped it to Minneapolis to see a pair a shows from Wilco on June 29 & 30th, 2001 at the legendary First Avenue club. This was the first show that Wilco performed songs from the album, between the two nights they probably played all the songs that would be on the still-to-be released, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The 29th show was drummer, Glenn Kotche's live debut with Wilco and the show on the 30th was Jay Bennett's last club show with the band, he would play two more outdoor shows in Milwaukee and Chicago. 
Wow! Well worth the $20 it cost to attend the concert!
I made the trip alone and I obsessively prepared my recording gear which at the time was a Sony cassette recording Walkman (WM-GX35) and a cheap, but decent stealth stereo mic. I labeled and smuggled in extra Maxell tapes and spare batteries into my pockets. Thinking back, I really liked recording with that deck, sure it was a pain in the ass to blindly flip or change the tape within the 45 minute side and try not to move or bump into anyone during the show, but it was no frills, you didn't have to worry about sound levels. It was press record, look at my watch and try not to stress. These recordings turned out sounding not too bad, but there is a lot of crowd noise and chatter as I was smack dab in the middle of the crowd on the floor. It documented the event exactly how it sounded to my eyes. The two nights kind of blurred together, but there was a buzz in the air that made it feel this was something special. I saw a couple members of Golden Smog/The Jayhawks hanging in the backstage area and there was a film crew there (maybe both nights?) that turned out to be the crew for the Wilco documentary. In the film, there is footage shot at the First Avenue and if you watch the DVD bonus special features, a full song is shown from the concert. I'm pretty sure you can see me knee deep in the crowd! This was my first time seeing Wilco live and seeing and hearing the new material for the first time was definitely the highlight and the songs were warmly received. The only negative of the night was during the second encore during the quiet, Reservations that Tweedy performed solo, some idiot in the crowd threw something at Jeff. Not sure what, maybe a crumpled piece of paper (?) or a beer label (?), but regardless the show was over after he finished the song. I believe they planned to play a longer encore, at least a few more songs, but Jeff appeared to be pissed. The next night's encores more than make up for this shorter show. To be continued...
The master tapes from the two concerts. Viovoom (Jessy Greene's band) opened both nights.

Please do NOT sell or profit from this recording!
Do NOT convert to lossy formats, except for personal use
Please share!

First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
June 29, 2001

AUD Master (cassette)

01. Misunderstood
02. A Shot In The Arm
03. War On War
04. I'm Always In Love
05. How to Fight Loneliness
06. Hesitating Beauty
07. Blood Of The Lamb
08. She's A Jar
09. Forget The Flowers
10. Airline To Heaven
11. Remember The Mountain Bed
12. California Stars
13. Sunken Treasure

14. encore break- crowd
15. Jesus, Etc.
16. Kamera
17. I'm The Man Who Loves You
18. I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
19. Hoodoo Voodoo
20. Casino Queen
21. Monday

Encore 2:
22. Reservations

Wilco- 2001-06-29 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN FLAC Master. rar

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