thank you, cigarette guy.
As soon as Wilco took the stage, he ran into my view. It was my first introduction to mr. cigarette guy and to his fisherman’s sweater and jeans and beer. I thought our meeting would be short-lived. I was wrong.
He stood just to my right and in front of me throughout the entire concert, and I can’t even do justice to his antics, but I will try. First of all, he had this hand pumping thing going on. He would raise his hand and point (at nothing) and then pump his hand horribly off beat and then point at nothing again and then do this swirly motion with his hand and then scream “get up Kansas City” and then laugh and then he’d take a swig from his beer. He repeated this every two minutes or so. Sometimes, when it was a song that he really, really liked, he’d take a cigarette out of his pack and hold it up high — kind of like he was offering it to the Wilco gods. Then he would do the hand pumping, pointing, swirly thing using the cigarette as his pointer. At a particularly passionate moment, he would throw his unlit cigarette into the audience and then say “mmmm, cigarettes taste so good.” Seriously.
Best of all, maybe, was when he would hold his hand in the air and do this countdown with his fingers. He always started at "five" and by the time he got to "zero" nothing particularly special happened. He also would talk (yell, really) to anyone who was next to him. He spent a good ten minutes yelling at the security person about how Kansas City needed to “get up” for Wilco. I spent a good ten minutes laughing. I wish I had been able to watch Wilco, which may have been one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, uninterrupted. That’s why I chose the balcony and not the floor. That’s why I got there early and scoped out my seating. That’s why I only drank one beer and made sure I could fully appreciate the majesty that was before me. Cigarette Guy would not have seemed so strange on the floor or in the pit of a Korn concert. But this was Wilco. And he was way excited. And so I’d just like to say from me to you, Mr. Cigarette Guy, thanks for keeping it real. And thanks for moving out of my way whenever I politely tapped you on the shoulder.