Longtime post-Americana alt rock faves Wilco finished their headlining set on Saturday (Sept. 17th) at Mount Tam's Sound Summit festival with an encore set that featured surprise guests Bob Weir and Bill Frisell. Guitar genius Frisell, who had done an earlier afternoon Guitar In The Space Age themed set at the Marin mountaintop festival, joined the headliners for two songs before the Grateful Dead member (who plays Amoeba Hollywood Sept 27) plugged in his guitar and joined all seven other musicians for "California Stars" and an inspired multi-guitar fueled rendition of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." This closing to an already killer set by Wilco, their sixth Bay Area concert in the past two weeks, topped off a perfect day at the third annual music festival that also featured Los Lobos, The Stone Foxes, and Matt Jaffe Long a hip-hop music fan rather than rock, admittedly I was not familiar with Wilco's music before attending Saturday's all day event at the 2000 foot altitude amphitheater. But en route up the winding Marin mountain drive to the concert I was accurately informed by a colleague that, "Wilco are the sort of band that even if you don't know their music, you'll immediately feel like you do!" Depending on your level of enthusiasm or your level of cynicism, that could be viewed as a good or bad thing. For me it was a good thing. But for Amoeba Wilco bio writer John Schacht not as much. "Churning out the most bland music ever made that people actually like," he wrote of the band but in reference more to their earlier work before they began to explore new musical directions, something I learned all about during Saturday's
The Chicago based band formed 21 years ago and their current six-member lineup, including founding members Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt, has remained constant for the past dozen years. The songs in the first part of their concert on Saturday, with the band's lush rich full sound coupled with singer/front man Tweedy's Dylan-ish vocals, reminded me not so much of Zimmerman senior but his son Jakob's band The Wallflowers. But before I could pigeon-hole Wilco's sound, they'd already shifted gears and smoothly morphed into some totally different sound. They went off on experimental musical tangent and did it well, then later they nailed a soaring acid rock guitar jam, and then later drifted off into country rock: a sound I learned that dates back to their Uncle Tupelo roots.