Indie rock group Wilco brought their vast, 11-album discography to The Anthem on Oct. 15 for their “Ode to Joy” tour.
The release of Wilco’s latest album "Ode to Joy" on Oct. 4 marked the band’s 11th studio album since its formation in 1994, and widespread admiration for the band remains as prominent as ever. D.C.’s hottest new venue was filled to the brim with fans from the past 25 years of Wilco in attendance. Hailing from Chicago, the alternative rock group jammed out to heady rock classics as fans sang along.
The set design for the “Ode to Joy” tour was simple and sophisticated: a large screen displayed soothing graphics, often only to be intercut with blinding lights as the band’s sounds echoed louder.
Wilco’s loose labels of indie rock have grown less fitting since frontman Jeff Tweedy and company incorporated idiosyncratic effects, blurring the sounds between instruments in their fourth studio album, the 2002 classic “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” The unique structure of integrating alternative and country roots with new instrumentation has made the band’s music unlike any other, despite the fact that many still tab them as simply “the American Radiohead.”
Wilco and Radiohead love to blend sounds together, often with the same skittering reverbs, not to mention their similarly abstract lyrics. Both bands have edited their sound over time, showing growth that few groups possess at this point in their careers.
One fan favorite that captured the audience with ease was “Random Name Generator,” a head-bopping track from Wilco’s 2015 free-to-download album, “Star Wars.” The band also played some of their most beautifully constructed songs, such as “At Least That’s What You Said” and “Jesus, Etc.”
Tweedy took a lot of time between songs to talk with the audience, often cracking quick jokes about audience members on their phones and his own, often dour, lyrics before playing them.
Fans could see Tweedy clearly enjoying himself on stage, and, as the atmosphere in The Anthem grew light, the night quickly transformed into a blissful break in which all concertgoers focused on the sounds inside the concert hall.