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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wilco dazzles Tucson audience

    Tucson band Here We Go Magic performs at the Rialto Theatre on June 18 as part of the Wilco concert afterparty.
    Tucson band Here We Go Magic performs at the Rialto Theatre on June 18 as part of the Wilco concert afterparty.

    For the first time in 14 years Wilco has returned to Tucson, once home to a teenage Jeff Tweedy. Wilco and opening act Grizzly Bear played for nearly four hours in a sold-out show June 18 that enthralled fans of all ages.

    Entrance doors opened and fans entered a dim Centennial Hall where equipment and instruments covered the stage that was shrouded in smoky fog and red light. The aesthetics of the show were beautiful throughout, and added an entirely different layer to the show – something that many live music performances lack.

    Grizzly Bear began the show to a half empty auditorium, but their energy was solid nonetheless. The band’s signature ethereal sound took well to a live setting where it boomed across the seats. The performance was an interesting mix of electronic elements and acoustic instruments layered between light and quiet vocals. The lighting set Grizzly Bear apart from many other bands. The changes in color and brightness, paired with the surreal sound, created a unique concert experience.

    Despite this performance, many fans were eager for Wilco to take the stage, and did not have the patience for Grizzly Bear’s lengthy set.

    The energy level of the show increased hundredfold once Wilco appeared. Even after a 14-year absence Tucson welcomed Wilco with open arms. Before playing a single note the band was greeted with a standing ovation. The taciturn band returned the favor by performing immediately, and nearly an hour passed before Wilco spoke to the crowd. This didn’t faze the fans who were too busy joyfully dancing and singing along to each song to notice.

    Assigned seating for a rock concert is generally a negative. Hosting the performance at Centennial Hall left many worried that a crowd’s normal to and fro would be hard to replicate with seats bolted in place. However, the energy the fans brought to the performance more than made up for the lack of room to move. Here and there concertgoers would dance, but were quickly shooed from the aisles.

    The concert was perfect. After the band took to the stage, each member put everything into the performance. One cannot help but feel inspired when watching Tweedy shred on his cherry SG.

    Wilco’s sound made a perfect transition from album to live setting. The instruments never overpowered the vocals, and the music did not suffer in quality by any means in Centennial Hall. The harmonies, melodies, and lyrics wove together to create a symphony of indie rock that was fantastic live.

    Like Grizzly Bear, Wilco had a stage setup that included intelligent lights. Unlike most concert lighting, intelligent lights are pre-programmed to move and spin with the sounds. The smoky stage of Centennial Hall changed colors as songs progressed, and the lights swelled and dimmed to match the intensity of the music. This dynamic lighting pushed Wilco’s performance to an entirely different level. From emotional rawness to overall ability, Wilco was the full package Thursday night.

    An after party was hosted at the Rialto Theatre, which included performances from local bands Here We Go Magic and Holy Rolling Empire. Members of Grizzly Bear were also in attendance at the post-show get together, which was well attended and lasted well into the morning.

    Wilco and Grizzly Bear rocked Tucson to the core and proved that Centennial Hall could host a rock concert full of energy. The two bands left a lasting impression on those who were able to attend what may very well be the concert of 2009.

    Let’s hope it won’t be another 14 years before Wilco graces Tucson again.

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