by Andrew Crisp
Treefort alumni Blitzen Trapper joined Chicago-area alt veterans Wilco at the Knitting Factory's Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series June 26.
Hearkening back to Neil Young, Blitzen Trapper opened the evening with bluesy tracks, switching between hits like "Wild Mountain Nation," "Furr" and tracks off the band's 2011 release, American Goldwing, pausing only for guitar changes.
"That completes the folk part of our show," lead singer Eric Earley said halfway through the band's set, as he put down an acoustic guitar. "We're going to switch to rock now to get you ready for Wilco."
The huge crowd cheered at the mention of the headliner, though they stayed glued to their blankets. Much of the crowd was slurping tea and gobbling cheese and crackers from folding chairs, the lawn reminiscent of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. However the play performed on stage included thrashing, huge rock guitar riffs as Blitzen Trapper wandered off into improvisational territory for a crescendo. And the audience remained on their duffs.
"You guys are just chilling; you look comfortable," Earley said.
But when Wilco took the stage, that changed.
Much of the crowd got to their feet, with the band quietly launching into its first track, the 12-minute epic "One Sunday Morning" from 2011's The Whole Love.
One woman was so enthralled by the band that she told nearby audience members to "shut up" and to take talking to the back, swinging her hips throughout.
"If you have to wear running shoes to a concert, it's time to pack it in," a bearded audience member told me, gesturing to the scolding woman.
From the rafters of the stage, hundreds of tiny white pieces of cloth were tied to knotted white rope. As the sun began to set, the streamers were set ablaze with light in time with the music and cast a kaleidoscope of colors across the crowd.
The rest of the evening held a birthday serenade for Matrix, a member of the Wilco stage crew, as well as Jeff Tweedy's admonishments to "freeloaders" watching the show from the Boise Foothills.
Just before two separate encores, Tweedy referenced a familiar smell emanating from the audience.
"That's the song everyone lights up on," he said. "I'm looking at you, World's Most Stoned Man. Don't raise your hand, you're gonna get arrested."
True to form, the evening included favorites from the entire spectrum of Wilco's oeuvre, just as Tweedy told Boise Weekly they would.
Check out a slideshow of the concert here.