When Wilco took the stage at Breese Stevens Field Friday there was, both figuratively and literally, lightning in the air.
An incoming torrential downpour accompanied by frequent lightning flashes added a layer of suspense to what would’ve been an otherwise chill show. Luckily, though, any rain-out bummer was avoided, and the weather held up for Wilco as well as their opening act, Kurt Vile.
Vile, by the way, did his job as an opener well.
The scene was set on a warm Friday evening in Madison, the crowd predominately families. Perhaps the younger crowd hadn’t caught on the unique music festival vibes Breese Stevens Field had to offer.
Coming on promptly at the show’s 6 p.m. start time, Vile played for about an hour. His songs took on a special quality live that complemented the summery setting. “Walking on a Pretty Day,” one of his most popular tunes, was a prime example.
Embracing light vibes, Wilco picked up right where Vile left off. What was great about the nearly 20-year-old band was that they knew exactly what the crowd wanted, playing a jukebox selection of their hits throughout the year, plus some new material off their latest record, Schmilco, as well.
They played all the classics to much fanfare. “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” captivated, “Heavy Metal Drummer” got feet tapping and “Impossible Germany” made everyone’s hearts full. Wilco made their versatility as a band apparent at Breese Stevens, proving they can master nearly every style of indie rock and hit each stop between soft folk and harder alt-rock.
It would also be a crime not to mention the new stuff they played, specifically the song “If I Ever was a Child.” The jam seemed to be a return to form for Wilco, featuring more conventional songwriting and noticeably cleaner guitars than the stuff off 2015’s Star Wars. This backshift could even suggest the possibility of it being Wilco’s last effort.
That being said, if they’re still having as much fun as they seemed to on stage Friday, then it’s foreseeable that Wilco could continue doing their thing for the next 10 or even 20 years.