A quick disclaimer to start: Wilco is my favorite band. I mean, I’m shocked they’re not everyone’s favorite band because they’re, you know, the best. Ever. So, as you might’ve already deduced, there will be absolutely nothing objective about this recap. I’m in too deep. My love is too strong. And, as previously mentioned, they’re the best.
The recently celebrated 20th anniversary of Wilco has been somewhat of an event for the band’s enthusiasts. First it was the release of a rarities box set (Alpha Mike Foxtrot) and an essentials album (What’s Your 20?). Then it was the announcement of their “Winterlude,” a six-night residency in Chicago, the city that they call home, over the course of eight nights. The shows, performed at The Riviera Theatre, sold out nearly immediately and for good reason. They’re amazing live. No, seriously. Even if I wasn’t a fan I’m pretty sure I’d be able to recognize Wilco’s live appeal. Their talent is literally dazzling. It’s f**king jaw-dropping.
Over their Winterlude, Wilco played 180 songs (30 each night) with few repeats. Every night had its distinguishing moments, but all offered a perfectly Wilco-esque ebb and flow. Their genre-defying catalog holds within it a lifetime of emotions and all of the shows possessed their fair share of confessional, introspective, philosophical ponderings, blended among foot-thumping sing-a-longs and straight-up jam-outs. Watching a Wilco show is kind of like taking a journey through the highs and lows of the human psyche: there’s joy, there’s tumult, and there’s a lot more than just joy and tumult. It’s powerful. And if you don’t believe me, take five minutes to watch them perform “via Chicago” (which happened to be the very first song they played at The Riv on Night 1).