Analogue Music | Revered and Relatable: Wilco, Live in Indianapolis

Revered and Relatable: Wilco, Live in Indianapolis

By Matt Conner

​I'd never seen Wilco look so muscular.

That's an odd term to use, perhaps, but the flexing on this night in mid-November night at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis was in rare form. Over the course of 28 songs, a raucous crowd determined to cheer, chant, and call out their hopeful requests were satiated by a legendary band in fine form—and a muscular mood.

This was my third time witnessing the magic of a Wilco concert, and previous iterations felt more intimate, more subdued. This particular night felt like it was on the same sort of live trajectory with the slow thumping of "Bright Leaves" to open the show. Front man Jeff Tweedy twisted back and forth while playing the opener to the band's latest release, Ode to Joy, and a packed theater stood and swayed all the same as the band led them into a nearly 30-song set anchored in this latest release. What we didn't realize in those opening, still rather warm minutes that the band would soon crack their collective knuckles and ramp up the energy considerably.

This holistic presentation created an atmosphere within which the crowd could both relate with and revere Wilco.

Wilco's musical excellence needs no introduction, but it was compelling to see the band given so much room to flex those muscles for minutes on end. Nels Cline captivated the audience for several minutes apiece on Sky Blue Sky tracks like "Side With the Seeds" and "Impossible Germany." The familiar cacophony that arises on "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and others gave drummer Glenn Kotche plenty of opportunities to showcase his considerable skills. This band's ability to completely rock out has always made them difficult to categorize into their familiar bins of alt-country or pop, but this live show in particular made it seem outright silly to even attempt to label Wilco as anything but a wonderfully influential collective of musicians.

Lest you think the band remained distant with their instrumental displays, Tweedy and company were able to draw everyone together on crowd sing-alongs on "Via Chicago, "Jesus, Etc." "Hummingbird," "Misunderstood," and, during the encore, "California Stars." This holistic presentation created an atmosphere within which the crowd could both relate with and revere Wilco. Very few bands have developed the long-term relationship and necessary catalog to be able to pull off this sort of combination. Wilco owns it so well.

In all on this night, nearly every single album was represented, including a strong five tracks from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and eight from their latest release. The incredible span of songs reminded everyone in attendance that while they're living legends with heralded albums gone by, they're also every bit as inventive as ever before and the new songs fit beautifully alongside the classics expected from their fans.

Set List: Wilco, November 12
Bright Leaves
Before Us
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
War on War
If I Ever Was a Child
Handshake Drugs
Side With the Seeds
One and a Half Stars
White Wooden Cross
Via Chicago
Bull Black Nova
Laminated Cat
Random Name Generator
Impossible Germany
Jesus, Etc.
We Were Lucky
Love Is Everywhere (Beware)
Forget the Flowers
Box Full of Letters
Everyone Hides
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Hold Me Anyway

California Stars
The Late Greats