Wilco Live: Ashes of American Flags

ashesWhen you’re from a relatively small town, the amount of pride that you take from someone or something that comes from your area and receives some sort of national fame or prominence just seems to be a bit more inflated than from those who live in larger metropolitan areas. At least that’s how it seems to me. Whether it is a local musician, artist or athlete, there’s a reason why these people are the so called “pride of” whatever town they once called home. I happen to be one of those guys who take a good amount of pride in the people who live in the same area as me and are able to make a name for themselves, but I get even more enjoyment when a certain place that I’ve grown up loving is able to bask in a bit of the lime light.

Living in the somewhat sleepy Tulsa, OK can often have its low points. It lacks many of the obvious advantages that bigger cities take for granted, such as a vibrant downtown. And the worst part is, since I’m a huge fan of popular music, some of my favorite bands often pass us up for bigger and “better” cities. So when I found out that Wilco’s new concert film, Ashes of American Flags would feature a good amount of footage shot in the historic Cain’s Ballroom, a place I’ve spent many evenings enjoying some fantastic music in, I knew I had to track this DVD down.

Ashes of American Flags actually features five concert venues, each billed as legendary by the band, that were used in the film. All five venues have at least one thing in common - they have plenty of character, which is something the group was obviously aiming for when deciding to pick which shows to feature. More than just your average concert DVD, Ashes not only lets us take a look into the touring lives of Wilco but also tells an interesting story about the decay of historic downtowns in smaller cities across the country. The beautifully shot film takes you on a journey with the band, from Tulsa to New Orleans, Mobile to Nashville and ending with a trip to the nation’s capital. It’s an interesting look at the band as they travel from city to city, and a far different one from what we were able to take a peek at on the last film featuring Wilco, 2002’s I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. This time around the film is without a doubt centered on the music. Featuring expertly performed songs taken from their stellar double album Being There all the way up to their newest effort Sky Blue Sky, it definitely delivers the goods. And while the music will keep you coming back for repeated viewings, it’s the theme of the film that makes it such a unique experience.

As for the music, which I plan on coming back to plenty in the near future, there are 13 live songs that are featured on the film, which include highlights such as “Handshake Drugs,” “Kingpin” and “Shot in the Arm.” Also, there are an additional 7 songs that are featured apart from the film itself, one of which is the fantastic track “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” The DVD is pretty much a must have for big time Wilco fans, especially since it’s really the only concert DVD the band has ever released. The terrifically shot footage of one of my favorite places in the world is another reason, for anyone who shares the same opinion on Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom as I do, to add this concert film to your collection.

Meanwhile, Wilco has recently announced some new details on the band’s upcoming seventh studio album. The album is expected to be released in late June and will go by the name Wilco (The Album), which I guess means that it won’t actually be self-titled but rather go by that full name. The album has already been recorded and the band has offered up the tracklisting for our eager eyes to see. Curiously the first song on the record will be called “Wilco the Song.” Apart from a few minor details, such as the song “You and I” being a duet between Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and indie pop Princess Leslie Feist, there hasn’t been a lot of information on what the new disc is going to sound like as a whole. Below is the tracklisting for the new album.

"Wilco the Song"
"Deeper Down"
"One Wing"
"Bull Black Nova"
"You and I"
"You Never Know"
"Country Disappeared"
"I'll Fight"
"Sunny Feeling"

Tyler Barlass • Editor

Tyler is passionate about Music, Sports, Beer, Comic Books, Food, Cocktails and other seemingly unrelated things.


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