In 1995 and 1996, Wilco was my band. Long before they were indie-rock darlings, critically acclaimed and worshipped, they were simply my country rock obsession that others around me either ignored or openly disliked, perhaps due to my constant evangelizing about the band.
In February of 1997, I had my second opportunity to see the band live. The first was at the the College Music Journal Festival in the Fall of 1996, but that was a short set and I was by myself. No one was around to see and hear what I was experiencing, though I did manage to snag a set list. This show, however, I would be dragging along recent converts. My roommates, Charlie and Ben, and Ben’s girlfriend whose name escapes me as I type this, would be making the trek up to Detroit to the Majestic Theatre.
Now, at the time I ended up writing a review of the show, along with the recently released double-disc sophomore album Being There, so I’m not going to rehash the whole review which you can just read here. But what was only touched on is what I am revisiting for this particular installment of Yes, That Really Happened.
During the Winter tour Wilco had embarked upon in late 1996/early 1997, at some point the band began bringing out their venue-provided veggie and meat trays and engaging in food fights with the audience between the end of the set and start of the encore.
At the time, I was on an email list called “Postcard” that allowed people to trade bootleg tapes of shows (which I did), find out about set lists days in advance, and just generally talk about all things Wilco, Son Volt, Golden Smog, The Jayhawks and anything else alt.country. The words was going around that Wilco were pulling out the food trays for food fights, but I was never sure of the origin. Recently, I Googled “Wilco food fights” and found an article from February 3rd, 1997 that described a fan throwing a beer can at the band mid-set, and the band retaliating with the food trays. Maybe that started it, maybe that was the continuation, who knows.
At our particular show, as the band left the stage after a two-hour set, I had a pretty good indication of what was coming. I decided not to tell my friends, and they were fairly shocked when the band returned and tossed the veggie and meat trays into the audience. We were standing almost dead center just a few rows from the stage, so we were in the dumping zone. I managed to snag a few random veggies and started tossing them back on stage, like everyone else around me, aiming for band members. It was then I spotted drummer Ken Coomer.
Taking aim, I whipped a baby carrot at the drummer, who was perched behind his kit, and nailed him in the chest. He saw me, with his left hand pointed at me with his drum stick, and whipped the carrot back at me with his right. His throw went wide, and slowly the food fight died down. I’ve never experienced anything quite like that, though I’m sure those who have been to Gallagher comedy shows or Flaming Lips concerts have not dissimilar stories to tell.
The Wilco of food fights, and later that evening, Jeff Tweedy jumping into the audience for a night-closing version of Carole King’s ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,’ seems long gone, more relaxed and less crazy.
An aside, the guys in Wilco were kind enough to sign stuff for us that night, as I had my WFAL business card on me that gave us after show access to the band. Often times they say don’t meet your idols, because they’ll turn out to be either boring or jerks, and end up disappointing you. The opposite was true with John Stirrat and Jay Bennett, who spoke to us for a couple of minutes, and Jeff Tweedy who came out to say hi for a bit. If I had a brain, I would have brought along my micro cassette recorded I had at the time and at least had them record a station promo for WFAL, or even do a short interview, but planning ahead isn’t my strong suit.Social tagging: 1997 > bgsu > bowling green > Detroit > majestic theatre > michigan > wfal > Wilco > ytrh