Rumor Has It
Set the Stage
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
“Are you going to Wilco at the Baker?”
Never has a question fed my soul more than that one. After they had to cancel their March 2020 tour due to the pre-vaccine ravages of COVID, Wilco finally made their way to the Mount Baker Theatre.
And it felt like a Real Event in the same way that all big shows feel like a big deal in Bellingham. Along with the “Are you going?” queries that are standard for sizing up such events, when I took to the streets the night of the show for a bit of a downtown wander, there was a spirit of festivity in the air and restaurants and bars that are typically a bit sleepy on Sundays were full of customers and life.
It was delightful to witness, even if I wasn’t one of the lucky ones in possession of a Wilco ticket. I’ve never taken Bellingham’s robust music scene for granted, but all the same, I never considered what would happen if I had to live without it for a time. Sunday night was a light, bright counter to the dark days of the not-so-distant past. The specter of COVID still looms and remains something to be reckoned with, but life is finding its way.
Watching downtown wake up for Wilco was also an excellent reminder of what a strong economic driver the arts in general and the music scene in particular is in Bellingham. All those months that we spoke of saving stages, what we were really referring to was not simply the music venues themselves, but the whole economic ecosystem they’re part of and help support.
Speaking of stages, in another heartwarming harbinger of better days to come, the Wild Buffalo is seeking local talent to help flesh out its calendar. It has put a call out for “fresh faces” up to and including “bands, DJs and performing artists.” If that’s you and you want to play on the biggest stage in town second only to the one Wilco plays on, get in touch with the Buff. There’s no doubt that local bands and musicians were deeply impacted by 18-plus months without music venues—and in many cases lockdowns and social distancing measures that prevented them from even practicing—but I firmly believe that music is this town’s endlessly renewable resource and on a long enough timeline that probably isn’t terribly long, we’ll all be complaining that there’s too many bands to keep track of once again.
Of course, if you’re not a full-fledged musician but you still harbor dreams of taking the stage and wowing a crowd, the Wild Buffalo’s Monday-night lip-sync battle has returned. So get dolled up, down some liquid courage and be a star for a night. The stage has been saved for you.