The author of this story did not partake in any drugs illegal in the state of North Carolina for this story. 

Wilco returned to Cary Wednesday with a two-hour-plus set of songs from their new album, Ode to Joy, alongside a panoply of their most popular songs. 

I was late, as I often am, and missed the opener, the Nashville singer-songwriter Soccer Mommy, on my long walk from a distant parking lot. As I approached, the iconic intro of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s first track “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” burst over the speakers, spurring delighted cheers from the crowd. 

Once inside Koka Booth’s outdoor amphitheater, the smell of buttery popcorn was almost overwhelming. 

“I’m never going to forget the popcorn smell tonight,” frontman Jeff Tweedy joked before bursting into the opening riff of “Impossible Germany.” “Full on popcorn assault. How much popcorn are they making?” 

 While Wilco’s new album, Ode to Joy, is kind of a sleeper—even the album’s seeming hit, “Everyone Hides” has a kind of lulling effect—onstage, the songs become expansive and exploratory: the guitar and drum solos go on so long you lose yourself, almost forgetting what song is playing, before the chorus reels you back in. 

It was a chilly night, as far as North Carolina Octobers go, and crowd bundled together on lawn chairs and smushed up close near the stage, where I was. 

“Everyone staying warm?” Tweedy asked. “I think we made it through all the sad songs. The popcorn kept us warm.”

Someone in the crowd shouted something about weed (I spotted quite a few casual vapers in their forties, nearby). 

“And the weed?” Tweedy responded, “That was not my experience.” (He’s been sober for a few years now after kicking addictions to alcohol and prescription pills).

“You weren’t doing it right,” a heckler shouted. 

“I wasn’t doing it right? Really?” Tweedy egged him on. “Alright, I guess I’ll try again. Monsters.”

The band launched into “Heavy Metal Drummer” followed by the whining guitar intro of “I’m the Man that Loves You.” 

The super fans were loving the hits, swaying in the strobe lights with their $10 beers and singing along. Tweedy lifted his black beanie for a moment to reveal a frizzy mane of gray hair before plopping it back on. 

The band left the crowd screaming for an encore just before 10 p.m. and returned with “Misunderstood,” which ended with the crowd chanting “Nothing” for a solid thirty seconds at the end, followed by “California Stars,” which had us all moody under the waning moon. It was peak Wilco for those who love Wilco. And for the rest of you, fuck off. 

It’s really been a greatest hits tour here at @wilco in Cary, #NorthCarolina #impossiblegermany— Leigh Tauss (@LeighTauss) October 17, 2019

.@Wilco rocking Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. #handshakedrugs #wilco #raleigh— Leigh Tauss (@LeighTauss) October 17, 2019

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