By the time the house lights came up it was clear that Wilco had done what no other bands had done, at least in our memory, play an honest to goodness actual set of music at Les Schwab. As Tweedy and Co. exited stage left, telling grateful audience members that they'd "See us later," it felt like they just might.
We returned to the LSA on Sunday and avoiding any pre-show fajita, burrito, nacho or any other Mexican food parties, made it to the amphitheater in time to see LA's much-talked-about Cold War Kids. Living up to the hype, the quartet thundered through a 45-plus minute set full of some samples of their Loyalty to Loyalty record that is slated for a late-September release. A growing crowd consisted of a few hundred die-hard Cold War fans surrounded by several thousand increasingly interested bystanders whose applause grew as the set progressed.
But it was clear that most of LSA was there for one reason, or one man, to be exact. His hair is longer, his sets a bit shorter and his band a few members smaller, but damn does Beck still have it and anyone who wedged themselves into a packed Schwab on Sunday night, Sound Check included, can attest to that. Dressed in a suit with shoulder-length hair tucked under a floppy hat, Beck strode onto the stage and launched into a punk infused rendition of 1994's "Loser," much to the delight of a bouncing audience.
Flanked by a band of only four others (much smaller than other ensembles he's toured with) Beck sped through four or so numbers, a mix of cuts from Guero and The Information, with a few tracks from his new Modern Guilt, all of which seemed to run at about one and a half times the original tempo. Then, donning a massive headphone-and-microphone apparatus atop his dome, Beck joined his band, all armed with drum machines and hand-held synthesizers, for electronic fueled takes on "Black Tambourine" and "Hell Yes." An audience clearly unfamiliar with hip-hop concert behavior nonetheless waved hands in the air and did so quite swimmingly.
Making it two nights in a row of solid encores, Beck returned to the stage to dig into Odelay, prompting Les Schwabians to clap their hands (bottles and cans) for everyone's favorite alterna-rock-rap crossover "Where It's At" before speeding through "Devil's Haircut" and closing things down with "E-Pro."
Sound Check left, knowing that curfew had fallen and Beck, whether he liked it or not, would not be returning to the stage, but that didn't stop a couple thousand fans from remaining front and center for a good 25 minutes.
You just don't get that sort of devotion from Michael McDonald fans, do you? - Ric E. James and Mike Bookey