Under a nearly full moon and the watchful eyes of the iconic Trampled by Turtles owl projected on stage, music fans were treated to a night of favorites and surprises on Saturday night as TBT and Wilco performed at Treasure Island Casino Amphitheater.
The first big surprise was the lineup: Wilco opened and TBT closed the show. Many people around me were expecting Wilco to end the night, not go on right at 7 pm and play a quick 75-minute set. After nearly 18 months since their last Minnesota show, singer Jeff Tweedy and band were in fine form and sounding fresh in favorites like “Box Full of Letters,” “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m Always in Love.” For their finale of “California Stars,” they were joined on stage with Trampled by Turtles for a crowd-pleasing singalong that seemed more like a final encore than set up to intermission. It was the last we saw of Wilco that evening as they didn’t return to stage later in the night.
The second surprise was how tight both bands sounded, especially after so many months off because of COVID-19. For Trampled by Turtles, the “everyone is equal” staging that features all of the musicians in a straight line across the stage showcases how intricate their songs are and how they all seem to enjoy playing music together. Band leader Dave Simonett’s daughter, Lucy, came to stage to perform the eponymous song and charm the audience. Their set went longer than Wilco’s too but didn’t skimp on the favorites like “Wait So Long,” “Alone” and “Codeine.” There was the obligatory “Happy birthday” to a crew member in charge of the merchandise table that made me wonder if they just do that every show because there must be someone celebrating a birthday every day.
As for the audience, most seemed thrilled to experience live music again on a gorgeous summer evening. An estimated 9,000 attended the concert, unlike the sold-out Lizzo and Luke Bryan shows the previous two weekends. But that just gave everyone a bit more room to spread out, dance, and welcome the return of live music.