Wilco at Red Rocks: 20 Years of Timeless Music

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Wilco's performance last night was amazing, and they just dropped new music today.

Zee rocks. 

Zee rocks. 

It’s hard to have a bad time at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The sound is great, the view is impeccable, it’s fun to be outside (even when there are terrifying lightning storms), and the crowd is generally friendly and excited to be there. And the bands- the bands love it! Almost every artist comments on the scenery at some point in their performance- it’s just an incredible spot for a music venue. This week, I saw Wilco there. Their performance was amazing- The Marquee even called it "one of the most incendiary Colorado performances by the band in the last decade". Here’s how things went down:

Wilco are currently on their 20th Anniversary Tour and the age range in their crowd Tuesday really spoke to their ability as talented, classic artists. There were families, groups of college kids, and people who looked well into their 60s. That says a lot about an artist- to have continually put out music over such a long period of time, to have regularly gained new fans along the way, and to have developed lyrics and a sound that span generations. Wilco are timeless.

A full band shot. 

A full band shot. 

The musicianship of every member of Wilco is absolutely insane. To the left of the stage, there was an entire room of guitars; neck after neck of shiny, wooden sweetness. I don’t think anyone on stage played the same guitar twice. Jeff Tweedy is the obvious driving force and musical master, but John Stirrat was killer on bass, Glenn Kotche blasted beats (especially on his rockin’ solos in “Via Chicago”), Mikael Jorgensen tapped on piano, keyboard, and a melodica, Nels Cline was backbending on guitar like a madman and also strummed a slide, and Pat Sansone played basically everything on the stage (guitar, keyboard, drums, other percussion, organ, harpsichord, and banjo). Separately and together, they were stunning.

The band opened with “Handshake Drugs”, closed with “Misunderstood”, and played 28 other songs in between for a massive, rocking set. Wilco played all of their biggest hits, but they also dove into a few groovin’ deep cuts, including a couple of Mermaid Avenue tracks. Wilco then did a double encore. Their first time back on stage, they brought major energy. I thought things were over after Tweedy had the crowd yelling, “Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm!” with him, but Wilco came out yet again, this time with a small acoustic set-up on stage. Tweedy said, “Hey- we’re gonna save a little energy for the rest of the show” and the band jumped into “War on War”, an Uncle Tupelo track, two other licks, and finally ended with the aforementioned “Misunderstood.” Tweedy tipped his hat to us and the lights went out.

All Acoustic. 

All Acoustic. 

Wilco’s show will stand as one of the best I’ve seen between the rocks. Just like their sound, this performance was timeless.

Tomorrow, Wilco plays Pitchfork Festival in their home of Chicago. See the rest of their show schedule here.

Download Wilco's newest album Star Wars released today here.

-Hannah

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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.