The Austin Chronicle

ACL Live Shot: Wilco

By Jim Caligiuri, October 6, 2013, 10:58am, Earache!

With no new album to promote, Wilco had free rein over its ACL Fest setlist. In fact, the famed Chicago ensemble covered a lot of territory over the course of 60 minutes, from bubbling space rock to and melodic pop of the finest kind.

Wilco spent part of the summer touring with Bob Dylan, and bandleader Jeff Tweedy has grown even closer to resembling Zimmy, with a scruffy beard, white hat, and dark glasses. Try as it might, however, the band never really caught fire.

In a live setting, musicians depend on the audience to be attentive and provide a certain amount of positive reinforcement that lifts everything to the next level. The large ACL assemblage at the Samsung Galaxy stage seemed to be in tailgating mode. At one point, the chatter grew so loud, it was almost as if one of America’s great bands wasn’t even playing.

The opening riffs of “Impossible Germany” received a smattering of recognition, but the expansive, inspired rendition of that song never materialized. As always, a spacey version of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” the breezy pop “Dawned on Me,” and the gradually intensifying “A Shot in the Arm” were augmented by the guitar histrionics of Nels Cline. On the whole, the set fell short and one couldn’t help but walk away thinking Wilco wasn’t entirely to blame.

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