LIVE: Wilco @ MASS MoCA, 7/31/12

Nels Cline and Jeff Tweedy

Nels Cline and Jeff Tweedy

Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

“I want to thank you all for bidding on these tickets to support one of our favorite places: MASS MoCA. I would like to call out the person who got a ticket for one dollar,” said a fedora-wearing Jeff Tweedy from the stage, as I felt somewhat relieved that the complete cheapskate in the crowd wasn’t me.

In an unusual twist, Wilco – unable or too worn-out to stage their annual three-day Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA this year – offered to play a benefit for the contemporary art museum instead. (Solid Sound is slated to return next year on the weekend of June 21-23.)

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Half of the 1,000 tickets sold to see Wilco play in the museum’s Hunter Center went to the highest bidders – fans and MASS MoCA benefactors who ponied up thousands of dollars in some cases. The remaining 500 tickets were awarded at random in a lottery system to bidders (including myself), many who paid significantly less.

They may have recycled the backdrop from last year’s Solid Sound festival – the ghostly white fabric that hung from the stage like plastic grocery bags ensnared in tree branches (a backdrop that has actually accompanied Wilco on tour all year).

But the 27-song song set from Tweedy and Co. didn’t seem to disappoint even the five-figure bidders in attendance. (Except for maybe the guy who yelled, “Rest in peace Jay Bennett,” to which Tweedy replied, “I can’t understand anything you’re saying.” Really? Taunting a guy over the death of his estranged former bandmate isn’t that cool.)

“Spiders (Kidsmoke),” normally a sprawler, got a significantly tightened facelift; somewhat-Wilco-rarity “A Magazine Called Sunset” appeared in the set; Nels Cline brought out the double-neck guitar for a Cline-worthy freak-out during “Dawned on Me”; and the encore offered a trove of fan favorites, from “I’m Always in Love” to “I’m the Man Who Loves You.”

SECOND OPINIONS:
Jeremy D. Goodwin’s review at The Berkshire Eagle

WILCO SET LIST
One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)
Poor Places
Art of Almost
I Might
She’s a Jar
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Born Alone
Muzzle of Bees
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Impossible Germany
Capitol City
Handshake Drugs
Wishful Thinking
What’s the World Got in Store
Whole Love
A Magazine Called Sunset
War on War
Dawned on Me
Shot in the Arm
ENCORE
Via Chicago
California Stars
Box Full of Letters
I’m Always in Love
Jesus, Etc.
Walken
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m the Man Who Loves You

Nels Cline

Nels Cline

Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche

Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche

John Stirratt

John Stirratt

Jeff Tweedy

Jeff Tweedy

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