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Jeff Tweedy--11/20/15, Chicago, IL (Park West)


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Genuinely feel bad for Jeff after this show. Sometimes people in the audience are just the fucking worst. Is it that novel a concept that you NEVER go on stage when an artist is performing? The privileges people think they have are utterly ridiculous.

Take some relatively affluent suburbanites, give them a healthy amount of booze and put them in a venue that's too accessible but doesn't have very good security and that's maybe what we should've expected out of tonight's benefit show for the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.

 

Still, even I was little taken aback by just how embarrassingly bad a lot of the crowd was. Aside from the stage jumper (sidler?) who tried — and failed — to negotiate Jeff leading an audience singalong of Happy Birthday to her husband in exchange for making a donation to the charity, there was the drunk woman in the balcony who couldn't stop yelling out variants on "Tweedy, you're the best," and singing along badly during Born Alone. There was also the guy who thought it would be a good idea to rush toward the stage just as Jeff was saying good night and try to shake his hand, only to have Jeff completely ignore him. Afterward I heard reports of a couple of fights or near-fights as well, so this was pretty much a trainwreck of a show in terms of crowd interaction.

 

And that's not even counting Jeff's own struggles with some of his songs, which we've seen before when he hasn't played solo in a while and, as he explained, has been focused on making new songs and not so focused on the older ones. A couple times he would flub a chord or a lyric and just exclaim "Goddammit," in frustration.

 

Jeff played about 80 minutes in all, and actually managed to play almost everything on his setlist, which he said he asked his better half to help him make on her "surgerversery" — that is, the one-year anniversary of her major surgery to remove a cancerous mass from her chest. Jeff said he was very happy that his wife was able to be at the show with him tonight, and said she was doing fine (and was so "badass" that she attended the show even after having had a round of chemo earlier that day. "I don't think any of you had chemo today, at least I hope you didn't," Jeff said). The subsequent ovation for Susan was one of the highlights of the night, unquestionably,

 

From a musical standpoint, as I mentioned, Jeff actually managed to play just about everything on his setlist. Unfortunately the two Star Wars songs listed, Magnetized and More..., were both skipped. (Jeff had a little "swapout box" on his list, which featured three songs: Hesitating Beauty, Acuff-Rose and More...). Whole Love was also listed toward the end of the set, but not played.

 

On the plus side, We've Been Had sounded pretty great to these ears and the Shouldn't Be Ashamed opener was a nice surprise. What Light also was a highlight, even though Jeff didn't play it on a 12-string as he often does; he joked that it was the only song his wife could remember the name of when she was helping him make the setlist and only because he says it so often.

 

Other than that, it was kind of a bizarro evening. But always entertaining, despite definitely being squarely on one side of the fine line I always like to draw between a solo show being too respectful and too rowdy. Since it was a benefit for a good cause, it was a bit surprising (and unfortunate) that it was the latter in this case.

 

More to come, I'm sure, but here was the complete setlist as played:

 

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

New Madrid

One Wing

Hummingbird (started and restarted)

Passenger Side

The Ruling Class

We've Been Had

You Are Not Alone

Born Alone

Jesus, etc.

Please Tell My Brother

What Light

Pecan Pie (started and, uh, resumed)

Outta Mind (Outta Sight)

Hesitating Beauty

I'm The Man Who Loves You

Misunderstood

-----------------------

The Thanks I Get (dedicated to presenting sponsors Bill and Emily Reedy)

A Shot in the Arm

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In the plus column, Jeff was smiling and having a good time most of the night, as was I.  His guitar playing was on point, and I will probably be having some envy dreams featuring his guitar lineup.  A lot of classic song selections made for lots of singing along, and the crowd was much MUCH more attentive during Jeff's set than during the opener's, where the chatter was deafening.  Also in the plus column, I got to say hi to Paul :D and had a great conversation about live music with the young guy sitting next to me, who had driven up from near Bloomington, IN just to see the show. He had his marina towers Wilco beer koozie (sp?) on his person and in use, which impressed me mightily.  "I always have it on me," he told me.

 

In the minus column, people sometimes suck. Especially people with a few drinks in 'em with no boundaries.  Jeff genuinely was startled by the crazy lady who somehow got up on stage and it reminded me of that situation a few years ago where he had to physically neutralize a drunk guy who jumped on stage with him and tried to touch him while he was playing "Airline to Heaven" (in Indianapolis? Do I recall that right?) Jeff actually seemed a little frightened and clearly wasn't sure what to do. He was totally right to turn down her request. The handshake guy, I just don't know what made him think that was a good idea after the nut who invaded the stage. The yelling lady, I just wish her friends would have told her to put a sock in it. And remember that these people paid a premium price to act like fools in a public forum.

 

These days, I frequently have the feeling that I am the last sane person on the planet.  Nights like tonight reinforce that there is a lot of crazy going around and it seems to be catching like wildfire.

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In the plus column, Jeff was smiling and having a good time most of the night, as was I.  His guitar playing was on point, and I will probably be having some envy dreams featuring his guitar lineup.  A lot of classic song selections made for lots of singing along, and the crowd was much MUCH more attentive during Jeff's set than during the opener's, where the chatter was deafening.  Also in the plus column, I got to say hi to Paul :D and had a great conversation about live music with the young guy sitting next to me, who had driven up from near Bloomington, IN just to see the show. He had his marina towers Wilco beer koozie (sp?) on his person and in use, which impressed me mightily.  "I always have it on me," he told me.

 

In the minus column, people sometimes suck. Especially people with a few drinks in 'em with no boundaries.  Jeff genuinely was startled by the crazy lady who somehow got up on stage and it reminded me of that situation a few years ago where he had to physically neutralize a drunk guy who jumped on stage with him and tried to touch him while he was playing "Airline to Heaven" (in Indianapolis? Do I recall that right?) Jeff actually seemed a little frightened and clearly wasn't sure what to do. He was totally right to turn down her request. The handshake guy, I just don't know what made him think that was a good idea after the nut who invaded the stage. The yelling lady, I just wish her friends would have told her to put a sock in it. And remember that these people paid a premium price to act like fools in a public forum.

 

These days, I frequently have the feeling that I am the last sane person on the planet.  Nights like tonight reinforce that there is a lot of crazy going around and it seems to be catching like wildfire.

 

I sat two seats over from the handshake guy. He was obliterated. He was also yelling something about "Residual Kids," whatever the hell that means.

 

I felt awful for the opener. Every time he sang a song that was uptempo, the crowd just drowned him out.

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It is a taste like the every other Friday night in Copenhagen. Even boots party has the etiquette. Believe!

Welfare!

 

P.S. For the clarification in your future case the etiquette has suspension once inside sauna. This is known by all as riding over fierce precedent, so it is no use to make a complain in morning when you realise you have missed the school run and there is the unfed husky pack to annoy neighbours with yelps.

 

P.P.S. It is best to invite neighbours to avoid part of problem. Maybe also primary school teacher if you have a space for it.

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I sat two seats over from the handshake guy. He was obliterated. He was also yelling something about "Residual Kids," whatever the hell that means.

 

I felt awful for the opener. Every time he sang a song that was uptempo, the crowd just drowned him out.

The only good thing about that "Residual Kids" guy was that he unwittingly led Jeff to reveal the title of a new song that he's been working on: Normal American Kids. Despite a few audience shouts for him to play it, Jeff said he wasn't going to because it wasn't right for the situation.

 

And yeah, I felt pretty badly for Gerald Dowd (who is a very respected musician locally, drumming for Robbie Fulks, Justin Roberts and many others, and putting out a well-regarded solo record last year). The din of crowd chatter during his set, which he performed with guitarist Dave Nelson (who I had no idea was a co-founder of the New Riders of the Purple Sage), was ridiculous.

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Wow, glad I sat this one out. I think the crowd at his solo shows always tends to border on obnoxious (but then again I would prefer it if everyone was totally silent haha), and this sounds like it was over the top. I'll never understand people who treat solo acoustic shows like they're party shows.

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Also in the plus column, I got to say hi to Paul :D and had a great conversation about live music with the young guy sitting next to me, who had driven up from near Bloomington, IN just to see the show. He had his marina towers Wilco beer koozie (sp?) on his person and in use, which impressed me mightily. "I always have it on me," he told me.

 

In the minus column, people sometimes suck. Especially people with a few drinks in 'em with no boundaries. Jeff genuinely was startled by the crazy lady who somehow got up on stage and it reminded me of that situation a few years ago where he had to physically neutralize a drunk guy who jumped on stage with him and tried to touch him while he was playing "Airline to Heaven" (in Indianapolis? Do I recall that right?) Jeff actually seemed a little frightened and clearly wasn't sure what to do. He was totally right to turn down her request.

Glad to be in the plus column, haha. Nice to see you as well! Poor guy to drive up all that way with the winter weather rolling in only to have to endure a lot of that nonsense.

 

FYI, I added some more details to my initial post above so thanks for helping recount some of those (and definitely capturing better than me the feeling of Jeff being genuinely uncomfortable up there when that lady had snuck on stage during the encore break).

 

I realized I didn't really offer anything from Banter Corner, though there were just too many little moments —especially involving the weird crowd interactions — when I think you had to just be there. One funny line came during The Thanks I Get when Jeff said something to the effect that he wrote it when he realized that he needed "a song where I can get people to sing along and then tell them they can do better." B)

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In the minus column, people sometimes suck. Especially people with a few drinks in 'em with no boundaries.  Jeff genuinely was startled by the crazy lady who somehow got up on stage and it reminded me of that situation a few years ago where he had to physically neutralize a drunk guy who jumped on stage with him and tried to touch him while he was playing "Airline to Heaven" (in Indianapolis? Do I recall that right?) Jeff actually seemed a little frightened and clearly wasn't sure what to do. He was totally right to turn down her request. The handshake guy, I just don't know what made him think that was a good idea after the nut who invaded the stage. The yelling lady, I just wish her friends would have told her to put a sock in it. And remember that these people paid a premium price to act like fools in a public forum.

 

These days, I frequently have the feeling that I am the last sane person on the planet.  Nights like tonight reinforce that there is a lot of crazy going around and it seems to be catching like wildfire.

I have actually been thinking about witnessing that incident in Springfield, Missouri, in light of world events. It's frightening how quickly things can go awry. I'm sure there is now a bit of trepidation in the back of all performers' minds. Jesus, people are fucking assholes.

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I thought it was a good show and the crowd seemed like a typical Jeff Tweedy solo show crowd to me. Jeff's guitar playing was impressive to my eyes. Clearly struggled with lyrics as already mentioned which is a bit of a bummer. The song selection was a good mix of hits + deep cuts like Ruling Class and Pecan Pie. I was hoping he'd bust out This Ain't No Lounge Axe or some Star Wars but I enjoyed the setlist much more than I do the annual Vic shows. I like seeing how Jeff organizes and manages that setlist.

 

While I was not one of the numerous talkers during the openers set, I can't really blame the audience. This was an unadvertised set by an unrecognizable artist whose gear was dicked over to the side of Jeff's set up (which was odd)) and they played really snoozy material in my opinion. 

 

 

bbop - I don't believe Pecan Pie was restarted...just "paused"...not sure if you have that classification in your playbook!

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I realized I didn't really offer anything from Banter Corner, though there were just too many little moments —especially involving the weird crowd interactions — when I think you had to just be there. One funny line came during The Thanks I Get when Jeff said something to the effect that he wrote it when he realized that he needed "a song where I can get people to sing along and then tell them they can do better." B)

Thanks for the report on an 'interesting' evening and finding a few crumbs on the shelves of the bare banter cupboard.

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This made me laugh out loud.

 

What Light also was a highlight, even though Jeff didn't play it on a 12-string as he often does; he joked that it was the only song his wife could remember the name of when she was helping him make the setlist and only because he says it so often.
 

 

 

I can imagine the dialogue. Sue: "Jeff, turn out the light." Jeff: "What light?"

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I can't really blame the audience. This was an unadvertised set by an unrecognizable artist whose gears was dicked over to the side of Jeff's set up (which was odd)) and they played really snoozy material in my opinion.

 

I guess there are two mindsets on this issue. I would absolutely blame the audience, taking into account all of the factors you mentioned. It's just bad manners.

 

I have never understood the idea of going to a musical performance and ignoring the performer in favor of talking. Based on decades of attending shows I'm clearly in the minority and I do my best to ignore it, but the girl who rushed the stage during Tweedy's set--based on the descriptions above--should have been thrown out. In a perfect world, literally.

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I guess there are two mindsets on this issue. I would absolutely blame the audience, taking into account all of the factors you mentioned. It's just bad manners.

 

I have never understood the idea of going to a musical performance and ignoring the performer in favor of talking. Based on decades of attending shows I'm clearly in the minority and I do my best to ignore it, but the girl who rushed the stage during Tweedy's set--based on the descriptions above--should have been thrown out. In a perfect world, literally.

 

I wasn't clear, I'm talking about the behavior during the openers set. I agree with everything you say regarding behavior during a headlining set.

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Sure we had a few odd folks at this one, but we thoroughly enjoyed the show and were ecstatic to find ourselves in the second row. Two minor corrections to earlier posts(1) the opener second guitar player named David Nelson is not the same David Nelson from the NRPS and (2) on the new song Jeff did not want to break out he said it was not "ripe" yet rather than "right". We also did not think just was frustrated by his lyrical memory lapses as much as bemused, the guitar flubs are what tend to get him frustrated and we thought he was really solid on guitar and in fine voice. Funny to see Josh doing guitar tech duty for Jeff for this gig. Funny when Jeff started chords for Hummingbird and stopped to wonder outloud why do I play this song "it has like 700 chords". Security should have silenced the balcony lady and one of those things that is funny at first --Jeff thanked the vocal " soloist" after the song but like everyone lost patience when she continued. Again bad security on the drunk lady wanting to donate a dollar --I guess per person attending, but not what she said, if Jeff would lead happy bday. A song later he asked if he had handled it poorly and should sing it and seemed happy when crowd yelled no and then Jeff said he would donate $700 not to have to sing it. Before his set they auctioned a nice new acoustic signed by Jeff that went for $2,300. Thought it would go higher but money for a good cause in any event. Last security lapse was the fairly large guy sitting close who did aggressively semi-sprint to the front to try to shake Jeff's hand, his manner was a bit alarming. He earlier did prompt banter screaming Revisionist Kid and Jeff said do i have a song called that, ive written like 7000 songs. He really seemed concerned that he might have forgotten one! Still all in all, it was great to see Jeff and scary thought that he has been in the studio writing even more new tunes.

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I felt really bad for Jeff and that crowd was awful as was the entire organization of the event. But it was weird before the performers got on stage. They sold regular tickets and VIP tickets. Whenever Jeff does a charity gig, I try to do VIP 1) to be close and 2) to support the cause as best I can. But the front area of the stage was General admission, that was half full of chairs, half empty. The VIP section, which was half heavy Tweedy fans and half corporate sponsors was in the middle, and in reality, anyone who wanted to sit there, sat there. Other than providing funds for a good cause, the more expensive section was no different than the less expensive seats.

The talking during the music was at high level and I'd say half of the people were there just for a night out. During the sets there were guys starting fights by the bar, the aforementioned loud singer and "Jeff Tweedy is the best" commentator, the extremely weird woman who hid on the stage during the encore trying to get the birthday cash flowing (drunk and over-entitled is a bad mix), the guy who rushed the stage etc.

 

As for the music I thought the set list Jeff put together was really very good and aside from a few stumbles excellently performed. We've Been Had was perfection (never seen him perform that without stopping for lyrical help. It was definitely cut short by the shit heads and weird vibe. Been to a lot of Tweedy/ Wilco shows and have seen a lot of weird stuff, but never saw Jeff asked to bear such a unreasonable burden. The amount of give-back energy Jeff and Susan have is unbelievable.

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Why should they be different?

 

I understand your point and agree with you and was quiet myself during the set, but I guess I see why 2 reasons other people quickly become bored with it: No opening act advertised to me indicates that the audience should show up around 8 if they don't want to miss Tweedy and the performance was all the way to stage left so those on stage right had a really bad angle to spectate and frankly the songs were boring. .

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Sure we had a few odd folks at this one, but we thoroughly enjoyed the show and were ecstatic to find ourselves in the second row. Two minor corrections to earlier posts(1) the opener second guitar player named David Nelson is not the same David Nelson from the NRPS and (2) on the new song Jeff did not want to break out he said it was not "ripe" yet rather than "right".

Thanks for the clarifications. I wasn't sure whether the guy who played with Dowd was the same as the New Riders guy, but when I looked up the name, there it was. Would have been a weird coincidence, but I've seen weirder. Anyway. As far as right vs. ripe, I take your word for it. I heard the former, obviously, but I think the sentiment was similar. Too bad we live in an age of camera phones, lack of etiquette and the like because I think it does preclude hearing new material and/or songs in development the way we used to.

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I thought it was a good show and the crowd seemed like a typical Jeff Tweedy solo show crowd to me. Jeff's guitar playing was impressive to my eyes. Clearly struggled with lyrics as already mentioned which is a bit of a bummer. The song selection was a good mix of hits + deep cuts like Ruling Class and Pecan Pie. I was hoping he'd bust out This Ain't No Lounge Axe or some Star Wars but I enjoyed the setlist much more than I do the annual Vic shows. I like seeing how Jeff organizes and manages that setlist.

 

While I was not one of the numerous talkers during the openers set, I can't really blame the audience. This was an unadvertised set by an unrecognizable artist whose gear was dicked over to the side of Jeff's set up (which was odd)) and they played really snoozy material in my opinion. 

 

 

bbop - I don't believe Pecan Pie was restarted...just "paused"...not sure if you have that classification in your playbook!

Yeah, made the clarification. Thanks! :thumbup

 

Just as a point of discussion, I found it interesting that you said you enjoyed this setlist much more than the annual Vic shows. Just because you're probably someone who's seen a fair number of solo shows at this point, so I'd think you'd want to hear Jeff play songs that he almost never does (and which typically only happens at the Vic shows). I don't know. I guess I just don't really feel like songs like The Ruling Class or Pecan Pie are really "deeper cuts" at this point, certainly not to someone who's more than a casual fan. Those, to me, are just the "standard" solo show songs. I guess I just prefer a little bit more unpredictability myself, which is why the Shouldn't Be Ashamed opener last night was fun. I know my "standards" are different than most, though. :ninja

 

Incidentally...we haven't ever met in person, right? You should say hi next time, if you're so inclined...

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Just as a point of discussion, I found it interesting that you said you enjoyed this setlist much more than the annual Vic shows. Just because you're probably someone who's seen a fair number of solo shows at this point, so I'd think you'd want to hear Jeff play songs that he almost never does (and which typically only happens at the Vic shows). I don't know. I guess I just don't really feel like songs like The Ruling Class or Pecan Pie are really "deeper cuts" at this point, certainly not to someone who's more than a casual fan. Those, to me, are just the "standard" solo show songs. I guess I just prefer a little bit more unpredictability myself, which is why the Shouldn't Be Ashamed opener last night was fun. I know my "standards" are different than most, though. :ninja

 

Incidentally...we haven't ever met in person, right? You should say hi next time, if you're so inclined...

You are right, I've been to about 20 legit solo shows over 13 years. My favorite shows occur most frequently when a performer connects with the audience. That happens more often than not when the songs resonate and are familiar with the crowd, when there is an arch to the set and when there is plenty of uptempo material. The really deep cuts tend to be slow and unknown to all but diehards. Jeff's audiences can be up for the adventure of a few slower less familiar numbers, but that willingness fades with each song along those lines. The willingness wasn't there Friday - $140 tickets change the crowd dynamics in a negative manner.

 

All of this is just me summing up my own feelings. I 100% understand where you are coming from after seeing as many performances as you have. And, after further reflection, I agree that those songs aren't that deep and it wasn't a good balance there. It was my first time seeing SBA solo and I still think it was a good experience and good, if not great, performance by Jeff. 

 

I'll for sure say hi next time we're at a show together. I introduced myself to you when we sat close to each other at the worst of the 20 shows I've seen - the first 2nd city living room show at Up in Jan '14. So...it may be a risk to say "hi" ?!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You are right, I've been to about 20 legit solo shows over 13 years. My favorite shows occur most frequently when a performer connects with the audience. That happens more often than not when the songs resonate and are familiar with the crowd, when there is an arch to the set and when there is plenty of uptempo material. The really deep cuts tend to be slow and unknown to all but diehards. Jeff's audiences can be up for the adventure of a few slower less familiar numbers, but that willingness fades with each song along those lines.

 

I agree 100%. While I enjoy the deep cuts as much as any Wilco diehard, the annual benefit shows at the Vic are just one big dick measuring contest to see who can request the most obscure song. This year, I think Jeff played two Wilco album tracks at that show, and those were the two songs that had people singing along and having the most fun. I thought the setlist at Park West was great, with a lot of popular songs and a few deep cuts.

 

But as for the Park West crowd - jesus christ. Wilco fans are usually pretty obnoxious (doesn't everyone realize that Jeff hates when people woo?!), but this was on another level. I went to the Miley Cyrus show at the Riv the night before, and that crowd seemed tame compared to this one.

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