Thursday, July 20, 2006

When You're Back in Your Old Neighborhood

Wilco played at Summerfest two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night. The show was as buoyant as Milwaukee by the lake that night--the air held none of the typically humid secrets of July. Bell-clear and true.

I think some of my weakened heartseams (or, perhaps, there's a "god-shaped hole" there) were cauterized during that show. You know how that coming-full-circle thing works.

And maybe that's because it was as satisfying as the gentle summer collision of two of my favorite things--which is what I heard from the soon-to-be-jazzless WBEZ as I glided up my street at 2am that night after the show, Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"--could possibly be.

The way-past past was verged at that show, too.

In 1991, my first Summerfest (and first summer living on my own), John and Mike and I puttered down Lincoln Memorial Drive to the Fest in Mike's Festiva, a ladybug-sized four-speed that had made the trip from the Minneapple with nary a burble, but probably four tanks of gas (and in which, later that summer, we squeezed seven people--I know, I was in the hatchback with my roommate, God help us--and dragged rusty ass down 94 to Chicago). On that, my first Summerfest Fourth of July, though, XTC's "Earn Enough For Us" thumped from the speakers that probably cost as much as that Ford. I felt shimmeringly happy at that moment, I remember, the lake air coming in the windows, and a twelve-string guitar rolling out, sandwiched with my two best guy friends.

Which is yet another Favorite Thing.

Fifteen (!) years later, reunited with the Smiley-Face Fest under the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee. And even though that's widely cherished (and ripped) as a bridge to Nowhere, a straight shot that carries traffic aloft over the Lakefront and Port of Milwaukee, and then dumps you into a flicker's nest of off- and on-ramps and dunes by Bayview, I realized that now it formed a circle for me -- still "loving rock n roll," the night, and guy friends.

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