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I’ll get this out of the way up front, before tonight’s concert I wasn’t very familiar with either Wilco or Jenny Lewis. Aside from a couple Rilo Kiley songs and what I had heard from Wilco’s recently released Star Wars, I went in blind. And I can tell you that I’ve listened to both artists’ music nonstop since the concert. If you’ve followed my coverage on this site, you know I mainly cover metal, punk and industrial, this concert was me pushing myself out of a comfort zone and I couldn’t be happier that I did.
I’m used to only shooting shows inside dark, dingy clubs so the change to shooting in the middle of what is best described as a forest, was a welcome one. Up first Jenny Lewis, who exudes a calm charisma, came out on the stage hand in pocket, casually placing her drink down. Then she picked up her guitar, adorned with a rainbow and cloud motif, which covered the stage including her pant suit. The snarls and anger that I’m used at most concerts were replaced by smiles and positive energy. The transition to softer rock was easy because Jenny and her backing band started off with “Silver Lining”, one of two Rilo Kiley songs I know. The beach party vibe of the song was complemented by the laid back attitude of everyone in attendance, which unfortunately due to the early start time of 6:30 was smaller than expected. Concert goers trickled in and the seats and grassy knoll, that is lawn seating, began to fill up as her short, yet amazing set continued for the next 30 minutes for a total of nine songs. Three of those coming from Jenny’s days in Rilo Kiley and the rest coming from her solo albums Acid Tongue and last year’s The Voyager.
Wilco took the stage with “EKG”, the first song on their brand new album Star Wars, playing over the PA. The song served the same purpose live as it does on the album, a disorienting misdirection of a song. There’s a chaotic quality that makes the melodies and hooks of the rest of the band’s music that much more appealing. While most most concerts that have an entire album played in full can be tedious, Jeff Tweedy and the rest of the band pulled of this feat beautifully while playing Star Wars in its entirety. And judging from the audience’s reception, it was a wise decision. There was plenty of dancing and head bobbing, it’s hard to not get lost in the beauty of Wilco’s music when the setting is so beautiful and the sun is setting behind the dense trees surrounding Marymoor Park. Especially when the mix is crystal clear and the band is on point and sounds amazing live. After a few songs Jeff Tweedy took a moment to comment on the new album title saying he didn’t even know that a new movie is coming out, which seems like a piece of information that is hard to avoid at this point in time. This comment resulted in a chuckle from the audience as the band finished the album and got into the rest of a two-hour set. One of the highlights of the evening had to be when the band was joined on stage by legendary guitarist Bill Frisell, Scott McCaughey, Jenny Lewis and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie for a rendition of the Wilco and Billy Bragg collaboration “California Stars”. A treat that the sold out crowd is sure to remember for a long time to come. In fact, I’m sure this show will be one not forgotten for awhile.
Seeing a concert at Marymoor Park is an amazing experience, especially when it’s watching two groups of consummate musicians doing what they love so well. It makes for the perfect summer evening.