Okay, I've got to move this retrospective along at a bit of a quicker pace if I'm ever going to finish it at all. Let's see if we can't wrap up Day Two today, almost 20 days after the actual festival.
Last post, I was leaving the Peachtree Stage heading toward Ponce to see The Black Lips.
Actually, truth to be told, I wasn't heading that way to see The Black Lips so much as to wait through The Black Lips to see Neutral Milk Hotel. I may be one of the few people in Georgia who doesn't care that much for The Black Lips, but I figured that they would have attracted a very different crowd than Neutral Milk Hotel and if I could wait through their 3:45 pm set, I could get a good position near the stage for NMH's 5:45 set.
It was my first Black Lips show, so I suppose their Shaky Knees set was typical with the sing-alongs and crowd surfing and beer flung from cans across the audience, but I'm just guessing. Still, even though they're not my favorites, I'll admit the show was fun and in fact didn't suck.
However, I was not the only one planning to press toward the stage after their set for Neutral Milk Hotel. I managed to get about eight rows back from the stage, which wasn't bad at all, but it was so claustrophobicly crowded that I wasn't sure I wanted to wait there, pressed belly to butt with the crowd, for a full hour while Build To Spill played from the nearby Boulevard Stage. But the crowd was pressed so close, and some kids had managed to sit down while waiting and took up what little ground wasn't covered by feet, that it was difficult to impossible to leave and I had no choice but to stand there under the Georgia sun for a full hour waiting for Neutral Milk Hotel to take the stage.
But as it tends to happen, as soon as the band did take the stage, at 5:45 sharp, all the frustration over waiting in the crowded conditions was immediately forgotten. But as soon as the band launched into Holland 1945, the crowd surged forward, and as impossible to believe as it was, things actually got more crowded. Then the front rows started pushing the crowd back and we'd all teeter backwards like falling dominoes until a wave of forward-pushing bodies drove us the other way. Back and forth we'd ebb and flow like kelp in surf as the band sang a song about, of all things, Anne Frank.
After I had taken about as much of that pushing and shoving as I could want, I finally forced my way back toward the read of the crowd where I could watch the show more sanely from a less frantic vantage point. I mean, I appreciate the enthusiasm of the audience, and the band was very, very well received, but I like to be in control of my own center of gravity.
Before I forget, it was a great set, one of the highlights of the weekend, and included Two- Headed Boy, In An Aeroplane Over The Sea, King of Carrot Flowers (Parts One, Two and Three!) and about every other song one would want to hear at a Neutral Milk Hotel show. Virtually every song was a sing-along, and Jeff Magnum sang in his wonderfully nasal voice while Julian Koster played about every instrument imaginable, including the musical saw, all while wearing his goofy trademark hat.
Sadly, it had already been announced that this would be Neutral Milk Hotel's last tour ever, so we may never see them again.
Since I had managed to find a less frantic spot that still had good sight lines, I stayed there for the next hour while Milky Chance played at the Boulevard Stage and waited for Wilco.
Wilco took the stage at 7:45 and, as always, played a near flawless set.
Wilco opened with I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, followed by Art of Almost, one of my favorite Wilco songs. This isn't from Shaky Knees, but this video captures the Art of Almost performance pretty darn well.
Actually, the full set list went as follows:
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Art of Almost
Secret of the Sea
Heavy Metal Drummer
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Red-Eyed and Blue
I Got You (At the End of the Century)
Box Full of Letters
A Shot in the Arm
The earlier relentless sun had finally set giving way to a beautiful evening, and Wilco performed the perfect set to match the evening.
The days headliners were The Avett Brothers, but they had already started by the time Wilco finished their set and there was no getting anywhere near the main Peachtree Stage where the Avetts were playing, so after Wilco I headed home, one set early but fully satisfied, although from all accounts the Avett Brothers set was superlative. In fact, I had only seen six sets the entire day (Speedy Ortiz, Viet Cong, Real Estate, The Black Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Wilco) as opposed to the ten I had seen the day before (Surfer Blood, Haerts, Mitski, John Grant, Wavves, Zella Day, Mac DeMarco, The Mountain Goats, American Football, and James Blake), but it's quality, not quantity, that counts baby!