I had to be right up front

I sat it out for a bit on a lovely patch of grass.

Okkervil River's set rang through the open sky and I regret not knowing more about the band. Their subtle melodic indie rock is something I should definitely be listening to more of.

Speaking of "indie" (I have no idea what that means, don't worry), the epitome of anything and everything indie, and my hometown neighbours, Broken Social Scene were about to start their set, and I had to be right up front. All nicely bearded for the occasion, Kevin Drew and co. started bouncing around the stage to an audience that knew every word he was about to spew. BSS are a band that sound a lot more poppier live than they do on recording. I had just read an interview in Exclaim! (a Toronto magazine) that Brendan Canning did in regards to his new album, Broken Social Scene Presets: Brendan Canning. The question was about what was the height or best moment in his musical career thus far and he said it was playing Lollapalooza in 2006. It's no wonder he was all smiles for their return! A reoccurring horn section came out to play along with mostly songs from their self titled release.

They picked a few goodies but oldies from You Forgot it in People. For the most part there was only six of them on stage, plus an additional three when the horn section was out, then for "7/4 (Shoreline)" Amy Millan from Stars came out to sing the female vocals, and stayed on stage for the rest of their set. If you aren't sure, on "7/4" the time signature is actually 7/4, which is an incredibly hard time signature to write a song in, let alone a song with three different guitar lines, horns etc. Their set was a fun display of good friends and great musicians all working together triumphantly.

And then it was time for the nights big headliner to play. Now call me crazy… but I didn't go see Rage Against the Machine. I know I know… and to be honest it wasn't even that hard of a decision for me. I chose to see Wilco, one of our times most important bands, play in their hometown. It seemed about half of the festival had decided to do the same as the entire field was packed.

Standing there waiting for them to come on stage I had the opportunity to meet some of the craziest and most intense Wilco fans in the world. They were recollecting about Wilco's younger days, shaking with enthusiastic yelps about how excited they were for this song and that song, how Wilco always gives them their best, how Wilco is the BEST band EVER in the world.

The field was on fire with such high prestige and I'm pretty sure Jeff Tweedy and his band could have come out and said they were only going to sing Christmas carols and the crowd would still be pleased and gloating! Lucky for me, they didn't although they did come out dressed in colourful Elvis like costumes. Red, blue, and yellow suits with tons of glitzy sequenced bears and lollipops on them, they have a pretty hilarious sense of humour. Oh! And they played their hearts out.

Picking from their large back catalogue of bigger-than-life sized rock anthems with warm fuzzy hearts, they settled for fan favourites, the singles, and of course the secret classics. I was wishing for more off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but the unbelievably well sung "I am Trying to Break Your Heart" tied me through the rest of their colourful set. It was when multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone came up from behind the keyboards and began rocking the lead guitar that things got all too good to be true. Lead guitarist Jay Bennett and Sansone began battling with wicked licks that set the city a flame. Something about seeing them right in the core of their home town, them singing songs about the city we were standing in, the buildings we were looking up at… it really can't get much better than that.

I'm sure Rage Against the Machine played a killer set. Of course they did, but nothing could have beat Wilco that Saturday night. They were on fire! Alive with the glory and love of being home.

Photo: Toby Gottlieb

Click here for Part Five!
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