The Great American Road Trip, Wilco Part 2

A mere 8 hours after leaving 100 degree Colorado, we arrived in 110 degree Salt Lake City. With the evening and following day free, we set out to explore the city and see the beauty it had to offer. Determined to not miss a sight, we decided to hike up Ensign peak to get the best view of the the entire City as well as the Great Salt Lake. It was incredible what we could see, and it was clear why this vantage point is what provided the inspiration for the layout of Salt Lake City. Once we climbed down, and were sufficiently sweaty and sunburned, we made our way to the venue at Red Butte Garden for the evening.

It was quite a change from Red Rocks, but absolutely stunning nonetheless. Everything seemed so intimate and personal, and as we wandered around during Wilco’s soundcheck, the mountains that provided the backdrop once again made us feel small. Setting up outside, alongside the growing line, we realized that many fans were far more sunburned than us. It wasn’t until a few days later that we found out many of them had been camping out since the previous evening, eager to be the first fans onto the field. However, a long line of sitting concertgoers is a perfect opportunity for conversation. The Salt Lake City team jumped in with the crowd right away and we were able to get 43 registration in a matter of and hour and a half before the doors opened! At a venue as perfect as Red Butte Garden, the show could be nothing short of fantastic. The size of the show made it seem as though everyone was so closely connected, and the men of Wilco were intimately tied into each and every fan’s experience. It truely was inspiring.

Next on tap was Boise, Idaho. A short drive the next day, and we had arrived in a bustling downtown, and again no one seemed to pay attention to the 110 degree heat surrounding them. We arrived at the Botanical Gardens early and once again were taken aback by the natural beauty of this intimate venue. Our volunteers were every bit as eager and enthusiastic as the last. We wandered the gardens, shared conversations on the lawn, and registered many fans waiting in the long beer line. It was stunning how late the sun set, and that the sunset was in full effect when Wilco came on for their encore. In Jeff Tweedy’s own words, “I was expecting it to be dark when we played this song.” But, the sunset seemed even more majestic with “California Stars” rocking out in the foreground.

Now the trip from Boise, to Missoula, Montana was the most gorgeous stretch of land I have ever seen. As we followed the banks of the Payette River, we lost all cell phone service, and really felt as that we were immersed in the natural beauty that surrounded us. I could have easily stayed in this area for a few weeks, camping, biking, rafting, and just being one with the wilderness, but alas we had to push on to Missoula. Again, another perfect mountain town out west (can you tell I have an affinity for the mountains?), with a very young population, excited to show us their town and tell us what they love. On our evening off, I was able to wander around downtown Missoula, hit all the locals suggestions on Pizza and Ice Cream, and interact with the fans outside of a Korn concert. Quite a juxtaposition of the fans the following night at the Wilco concert, but enthusiastic about their music nonetheless. I was also able to squeeze in another short hike up the “M” and see all of Missoula, all the way out to the snow-covered mountains in the distance.

I was most excited for Missoula because of the venue we were playing at: Big Sky Brewing Company. Local brews and like minded people (yes, I work at a brewery in Colorado when I am not out saving the world, one registered voter at a time), provided for the perfect setting to bring Wilco fans together. As soon as the gates opened, we came to a very interesting revelation, the kid who ran in first, with his hands high in the air to get his front-and-center spot, looked eerily similar to the same boy who had done the same at Salt Lake City and Boise. Finally later in the evening, he approached our table and admitted that he had seen us at the past shows, but didn’t think he could register in a state he didn’t live in. We found out he had been traveling with us since the Red Rocks shows in Colorado, and was by far the most dedicated fan, being the first person in at every single venue. We tried to convince him to be our driver on the next 19 hour drive to Minnesota, but he claimed he had real life to attend to. Fortunately for us though, he had recently turned 18, and we informed him that he could in fact register with us, which seemed to put the cherry on top of his entire experience. I guess the signed Wilco CD may have actually been the cherry but thats neither here nor there. Missoula was also the most energetic crowd we experienced so far. With a team of new volunteers, and some help from the local registration group, Forward Montana, we reeled in many interested and talkative fans, many of which were already registered, but were nonetheless excited to chat. Now, unfortunately, we do not have Tyler to be our personal chauffeur on the next leg of our tour, but we are stocked up on Smart Food and ready to journey across the west to Minnesota. See you all in Duluth!

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