One sang a song about a Red Wing bar. The other gave a shout-out to Red Wing's most famous product.
Those were just two examples of how Trampled by Turtles and Wilco seemed right at home performing together Saturday night at Treasure Island Casino Amphitheater near Red Wing — never mind that the concert site was a farther drive for Twin Cities fans who've seen both bands play in town too many times to count.
The twofer billing and its chosen location were about the only unfamiliar aspects of Saturday's concert. Both of the Midwest bands stuck to relatively standard sets for their last of three Upper Midwest shows together.
Coming off the pandemic, that musical familiarity felt more than fine. And so did the venue — the only permanent amphitheater in Minnesota big enough to host this combo of cultishly loved Americana sextets.
The 8,500 attendees soaked up the perfect summer's-end weather and didn't seem worried about masking up, despite the lack of a COVID vaccine/test requirement (which had been implemented two nights earlier in Des Moines).
Closing duties on Saturday fell to the home boys in Trampled, leaving Wilco in the now-rare position of opening the gig. Fans still filing into the venue found themselves singing along rather fittingly to the first song's refrain, "Maybe all you need is a shot in the arm."
Even with a relatively abbreviated 80-minute set time, the Chicago vets — who've actually played more Twin Cities gigs over the past four years than Trampled has (counting their three-show 2019 run) — still managed to put on a quintessential Wilco show.
They fit in at least one song off 11 of their 13 albums. Those included some of their jammiest, guitar-driven showpieces such as "Impossible Germany," "The Art of Almost" and "At Least That's What You Said." They only offered two tracks from their most recent record, though, "Ode to Joy" — a title that didn't exactly prove prophetic, frontman Jeff Tweedy glibly noted.
"It came out in 2019, right before all the joy," he deadpanned.
Tweedy kept his banter to a minimum on Saturday, answering one fan's yelled welcome with a heartfelt, "We missed you too!" He later held up one leg to show off a pair of black leather Red Wing-brand high tops.
"My boots are home," he mused.
Tweedy also took a little time to gush over Trampled by Turtles. At set's end, he invited out all six members of the other band for a singalong, pickathon finale of "California Stars," with TBT singer Dave Simonett singing the second verse and banjo player Dave Carroll and fiddler Ryan Young each soloing — a strong showing for the Minnesota stars.
That memorable moment was matched in warmth a few songs into Trampled's own 80-minute marathon. After the barn-storming openers "New Son/Burnt Iron" and "Walt Whitman," the all-acoustic mavens slowed things down to deliver the sweet, meditative "Lucy" with the song's namesake on guest vocals, Simonett's 10-year-old daughter Lucy.
"I think we can just go home now," the proud dad quipped afterward.
Emotions ran high again mid-set with the back-to-back delivery of "Life Is Good on the Open Road" and the Warren Zevon cover "Keep Me in Your Heart" — the latter sung by bassist Tim Saxhaug, and both sounding like laments for everything lost during the 15-plus months of lockdown.
Any signs of rustiness from Trampled's extended hiatus vanished as the band steamrolled through more of its fast-paced crowd favorites deeper into the set, including "Wait So Long," "Victory," "Burn for Free" and the finale "Codeine." So much for Wilco having the advantage raising the energy level with electricity.
Just before the encore, the local fellas caught their breath and delivered an ultra-serene "Alone." That harmonious highlight, in turn, left the crowd a bit breathless and emphasized the togetherness that made Saturday's show stand out from all the others.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658