77 Things I’d Rather Do Than Listen to a 77-Song Wilco Rarities Box Set
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Oct. 20 2014
I have an issue with Wilco. It’s a personal beef. My problem is this: Wilco is considered a Chicago band and the band members encourage this bullshit fallacy.
Wilco is from St. Louis, goddamnit.
Technically, Wilco is from Belleville, Illinois — an odd little town just on the other side of the state line. Belleville does have its own unique history and weirdo arts culture, but it is our next door neighbor. For those not familiar with the regional geography, here’s a little lesson: Belleville is about fifteen miles from St. Louis, but it is around 300 miles away from Chicago. So a Belleville band claiming allegiance to Chicago is about as ridiculous as a band from right outside Los Angeles repping Phoenix, Arizona.
You could say that I suffer from a common case of St. Louis Inferiority Complex, but I prefer to think of it as a flaming, incurable infection of civic pride. And Windy City, you should know one thing: Wilco has been cheating on you with us. Wilco concerts up north are all “Via Chicago” and talking up some magical silver bean, but when the band plays here it’s all “Casino Queen” and “We used to play at Cicero’s!” and then that hobbit guy sings about the Landing in “Heavy Metal Drummer” and we cheer because, OMG, we’ve been to the Landing, too.
Now, I think Wilco is pretty okay musically. I saw Nels Cline play with Yoko Ono a couple of times and I thought he was freakin’ amazing when he was freed from the confines of dizzy alt-twangover tunes. Some might call Wilco lo-fi “dad rock” or whatever but I like dad rock. I like dads. And on occasion, dads have liked me. (Hey-o!) And I thought the sound diversity on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, in particular, was interesting, but I was in college and on pills.
It’s hard to know how to feel about the songs sometimes because the lyrics are part beautiful poetry, part nonsense. These two extremes are frequently squished together into the same song, too. For example, take “Ashes of American Flags.” The line “All my lies are always wishes” is some deep intrapersonal shit, but the song begins by explaining the design and function of an ATM before it delivers us this: “I could spend three dollars / And sixty-three cents / On diet Coca Cola / And unlit cigarettes.” What? Where? First of all, did you have coupons? Because you got a good deal, homeboy. Also, why would anybody ever buy cigarettes that had already been lit? Nonsense.
Wilco live shows are long. Long and frequently awkward. Sometimes everything is rolling smoothly and we audience members are all happily singing along to cutesy pop tunes about alcoholism like “Passenger Side” and then, oh then, comes “Misunderstood.” The beginning of that song is so pretty and so sad, but halfway through you should excuse yourself to take that long-overdue potty break because Mr. Tweedy is about to scream “Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!” at you for the next twenty minutes. It’s the worst part of any Wilco show. I think it’s intended to be intense but it’s just obnoxious. Dude just keeps on barking like an annoying neighbor dog while the stage lights flash dramatically — I’m sure people have been murdered for less.
In any case, because Wilco dismisses my city, it’s my instinct to dismiss Wilco. #TeamSonVolt.
Just the other day I read that Wilco is going to release a 77-song rarities box set. Snore. That’s the kind of thing that hardcore fans can get into, but I read it and thought about how torturous it would be for me as a casual / reluctant fan to listen to that whole tedious thing. I mean, bloated box sets of demos and b-sides and half-finished songs are rarely worth it in general. Even the Beatles couldn’t pull it off. Remember those crappy anthologies with the collage covers? I feel sleepy just thinking about them.
So here’s a list of 77 mundane, slightly annoying and/or truly terrible situations and chores that I’d rather deal with than listen to than the upcoming Wilco rarities box set. There is only so much time in a day, you know? Have fun with that lake effect snow this winter, poser Chicagoans. And the sauce goes under the cheese. Learn it.
01. Pay my bills.
02. Dust my ceiling fans.
03. Apply sunscreen.
04. Go shopping on Black Friday.
05. Get a splinter.
06. Get a paper cut.
07. Have a pebble in my shoe.
08. Talk to my co-workers about their weekends.
09. Get my period.
10. Have a flat tire.
11. Forget to fill the ice cube tray.
12. Run out of toilet paper.
13. Eat Provel cheese.
14. Get pins and needles.
15. Find the end on a roll of packing tape.
16. Watch someone sneeze and then touch a door handle.
17. Not have change for the parking meter.
18. Miss my flight.
19. Go to the DMV.
20. Do my taxes.
21. Be hungover.
22. Get asked “Is Pepsi okay?”
23. Pick up dog poop.
24. Make a new spreadsheet.
26. Go to church.
27. Get a mosquito bite.
28. Unload the dishwasher.
29. Get a flu shot.
30. Scrub the inside of my refrigerator.
31. Accidentally hit the FaceTime button.
32. Sit in a waiting room.
33. Drive through Kansas.
34. Have my stapler run out of staples.
35. Be on hold.
36. Drop Visine in my eyes.
37. Forget my pizza in the oven.
38. Go to the post office.
39. Mop the floor.
40. Get a pap smear.
41. Have a three-inch leech up my nose.
42. Be on house arrest.
43. Bite foil.
44. “Drink” bubble tea.
45. Hang out with spiders.
46. Receive an unsolicited dick pic.
47. Have jury duty.
48. Find a mailbox.
49. Water my plants.
50. Parallel park with an audience.
51. Get stuck at a train crossing.
52. Watch golf.
53. Get a tattoo removed.
54. Watch a full ad online without clicking “Skip This Ad.”
55. See a puppy that I can’t pet.
56. Use self check-out at the grocery store.
57. Get fitted for a bra.
58. Eat a cookie that I think is chocolate chip but is really raisin.
59. Fold a fitted sheet.
60. See a photograph of Oprah’s feet.
61. Forget my gift card at home.
62. Get a check that isn’t signed.
63. Go to Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon.
64. Use a telephone with a twisted cord.
65. Hear someone say “for all intensive purposes.”
66. Read gratuitous hashtags.
67. Speak to an adult who reads teen vampire novels.
68. Go to City Hall.
69. Speak in public.
70. Forget someone’s name.
71. Hear the phone ring while I’m in the shower.
72. Watch Seinfeld.
73. Have a rubber band line in my hair.
74. Shave my legs.
75. Wait for my windshield defroster to work.
76. Take out the trash.
77. Listen to Wilco studio albums.
– link: Riverfront Times
LouFest Expands, Keeps St. Louis Fans in Mind
By Jaime Lees
Thursday, Sep 5 2013
Now entering its fourth year, LouFest has outgrown its toddler phase and is ready to play with the big kids. What began as a relatively small affair has expanded into a respected event with national recognition; in years past it was somewhat of a boutique festival, far from the behemoth sonic sprawls created at Coachella or Bonnaroo. Occupying a plot of land in Forest Park, the LouFest organizers kept the concert cozy, ensuring a quality experience built around a small stage setup and local vendors.
Brian Cohen, founder of LouFest, first held the event in 2010 and set out to build an annual destination festival. Cohen’s recent partnership with C3 Presents is the latest step in that growth process. As the third-largest concert promotion company in the United States, C3 Presents organizes massive events — including President Obama’s inaugural celebration and other multiday music happenings like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Whatever the company does, it does big, so regular LouFest attendees should expect something extra special this year — something that Charlie Jones, executive producer at C3, refers to as “an elevated experience.”
The inclusion of such a massive promotion company (and the connections that come along with it) has opened up new options to the LouFest organizers. In LouFest’s past, the bands were staggered on two different stages, but this year there will be a third stage and some overlap of set times. Instead of being able to see every set all day, music fans will need to make some choices. This new factor might be viewed as a possible inconvenience by previously spoiled LouFest attendees, but it is a standard practice for larger music festivals, and Cohen sees it as a positive thing, providing fans with the opportunity to see more bands.
“This year there has to be some decision-making to determine what bands you want to see,” Cohen explains.”Maybe you stay for half a set and then run to another stage. So that’s all part of the dynamic that makes it more interesting and exciting.”
C3’s Jones agrees with Cohen’s movement theory. “The park is huge. If you’ve been there the past couple of years, they’ve only utilized a very small portion of it. This year is not going to be that much bigger in a sense that there’s that many more people, but we are utilizing more of the grounds so that there’s more room to spread out with your blankets and move from stage to stage. Part of the philosophy that we have with producing events is motivating people to move around and experience other things, whether it’s music or food or just their friends.”
It’s hard to imagine the festival topping the psychedelic dance-fest that occurred last year. And though rain threatened to ruin parts of the event and forced muddy audience members to scramble for shelter, the show went on, and went on spectacularly. Headliners the Flaming Lips and Girl Talk made sure that the energy went up after the sun went down, and daytime sets by Son Volt, Dinosaur Jr and Dr. Dog were of legendary quality.
This year the lineup is more visually and sonically subdued, but it’s no less powerful. Headliners include monster acts Wilco, the Killers and the National. Rounding out the bigger names on the list is Alabama Shakes, a band that has gone from playing the Old Rock House here less than two years ago to getting near-top billing at LouFest. Like any large and diverse music festival, the lineup features often-seen touring bands awaiting their dues (Ra Ra Riot), hippie favorites (Trampled By Turtles), newer buzz bands (Wild Cub) and the electro-dance flavor of the moment (Icona Pop).
LouFest and St. Louis
Historically, LouFest has been a local operation from top to bottom. Organized and run by Cohen’s St. Louis-based company, Listen Live Entertainment, there has been great care taken to make sure that the festival welcomes and includes native businesses.
Says Cohen, “The beer is represented by two local favorites, Anheuser-Busch and Schlafly. Anheuser-Busch sponsors our main stage, and Schlafly has their beer garden. Our food court is full of local favorites, and in our market square we have local fashion and local retailers that come out and provide great things for people to browse through. So all in all we are a St. Louis event, born and bred. We try to reflect that in everything we do. We’re all about the city. We’re all about being a place to showcase the best that St. Louis has to offer. Not only music, but food and fashion and everything else. Our event is about celebrating all of those things.”
If there has been any criticism of LouFest over the years, it’s the fact that it’s called “LouFest” and that the name might imply the inclusion of more local bands on the lineup. But the festival has included local bands every year, even if their performances have been relegated to the earliest possible time slots.
“What we have done from the beginning is make sure that local bands are represented in the lineup,” Cohen explains. “That’s very important to us, and that’s a tradition that we want to keep. Other festivals don’t really do that. They don’t have a commitment to their local scenes, at least in the public way that we do.”
Over the years LouFest has featured performances from locals Kim Massie, So Many Dynamos, the Bottle Rockets, Magnolia Summer, Sleepy Kitty, Jumbling Towers and Jeff Tweedy (arguably a St. Louis native via neighboring Belleville, Illinois). And that streak doesn’t end — Tef Poe and Kentucky Knife Fight are on the bill for 2013.
“It’s a balancing act to determine how many to include, because part of the appeal of festivals is bringing bands to St. Louis that don’t really come here that often,” Cohen says. “So while there’s plenty of local talent that we could put on the stage throughout the day, we need to strike a balance between bands that you can see often in St. Louis and those that are going to provide a unique experience that our fan base doesn’t get to experience very often.”
Jones echoes Cohen’s “bigger picture” sentiment: “Whenever we go to a new market, and specifically St. Louis, it’s not necessarily a goal just to make a big music festival, but it’s to try to create an event that’s going to become part of the community and hopefully be thought about as something to do in that community for many, many years to come — a true cultural event that represents the park, the city and the fans that would come to it.”
12 p.m. Saturday, September 7 and Sunday, September 8.
$55 to $95. Forest Park, Highway 40 (I-64) & Hampton Avenue.
link: Riverfront Times