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Jeff Tweedy — 22 April 2017, Chicago, IL (Vic Theatre) [Benefit for Education; Night 2 of 2]

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Once again, I really don't have time to report as fully as I'd like right now on the second and final night of Jeff's annual education benefit solo shows. As always, each show ends up being a fairly unique affair depending on Jeff's state of mind and motivation level, crowd dynamics, songs requested and other factors.

Many years when there have been two shows, it ends up that the first night is a bit more ragged performance-wise before Jeff turns in a more polished effort on the second. This year, however, I would say those results were probably reversed. This second of two shows proved to be quite "a slog," as Jeff has jokingly described these shows in the past. Except that slog seemed to be apropos when Jeff struggled mightily with his lyrics early on with significant lyric flubs in maybe half of the first six songs. He mentioned forgetting to take his medication, so perhaps that had something to do with it. But I can't remember him having such a hard time on so many songs, at least not for that sustained a period. "I don't know what I'm doing anymore," he said almost bewilderedly at one point. "I used to be pretty good at this."

Gradually, though, Jeff seemed to settle into a rhythm. He interspersed his songs with various anecdotes, and also answered a a couple of questions and ribbed a few audience members (ahem). When I have more time, I'll try to add more Banter Corner details if no one else does...

Edit: Adding a few thoughts as I go, I'm not about to suggest that Jeff's struggles at the start of this show had anything to do with age. But he did mention at the start of the fake encore (he had informed us that unlikely the previous evening, he would not be leaving the stage and waiting for sufficient applause to draw him back because it was somewhat stupid in a format such as this when the audience knew he had songs left to play; instead, he said at a certain point, he would just stand on stage awkwardly and indicate that his main set was complete) that he would be turning 50 this year. He joked that he came to realize that not long ago when he hurt himself while sleeping.

Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 2:

Via Chicago (w/harmonica)
Wishful Thinking
One Wing
Radio King
Muzzle of Bees
Airline To Heaven
Reservations
Heavy Metal Drummer
How To Fight Loneliness
Bull Black Nova
Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
You Are My Face
Quarters
I'll Fight
We Aren't The World (Safety Girl)
Oklahoma U.S.A. [The Kinks]
—Happy Birthday sung by audience to song requester Brett—
High As Hello
Where Do I Begin
Gun
ELT
Passenger Side
I Got You (At The End of the Century) ("This Is 40" arrangement)
Dawned On Me
Locator
Random Name Generator
Theologians
------------------------------ (fake encore)
The Thanks I Get
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Hoodoo Voodoo

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I was the song requester, Brent. I requested Big Star's Thirteen. I wasn't expecting the happy birthday. My friend somehow got the word to Sue. It was a great surprise!

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 He mentioned forgetting to take his medication, so perhaps that had something to do with it. But I can't remember him having such a hard time on so many songs, at least not for that sustained a period. "I don't know what I'm doing anymore," he said almost bewilderedly at one point. "I used to be pretty good at this."

 

 

 

I'm not sure I'd use "bewildered" to describe him when he said this. That makes me think of someone saucer-eyed, surprised to find himself where he is or doing what he's doing (like Brian Wilson when I saw him in 2008 in Jackson Hole). All of Jeff's comments seemed more like attempts to "explain away" his forgetfulness in a way that might be more palatable than simply saying he was tired or worn out or not really "feeling"  learning/practicing/performing almost 30 more songs (added to the ones from Friday night). The mention of the meds, the "I don't know what I'm doing anymore"--they all felt like typical Jeff, self-deprecating quips. It seemed to me like he was just out of his groove at the beginning, and eventually he found it. After the first few flubs, he said something about the audience being "really great" about it or whatnot. I think the show could've gone a lot of ways at that point, but it was a warm, affectionate crowd (with the exception of the guy in the balcony--and even he wasn't so bad). In the end I thought Jeff seemed mellow but not angry or confused or anything negative. 

 

I wasn't at Friday's show so can't compare, but I enjoyed myself a lot last night! Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down was a treat (thanks, Brianne!). I have no idea what the "stats" are on that song, but I know I've never heard it live before. Or if I did hear it live, it was during the Mermaid Ave. era and have no memory of it thanks to children stealing my brain cells since then.  And apologies to Brent: I definitely sang happy birthday to "Brett." Some other highlights were RNG, Reservations, and my request (You Are My Face). There are typically some nice surprises in terms of requests, but in the end I simply like being at these shows to watch one of my favorite musicians make music in front of me while I'm hanging with my friends. Add a decent IPA and some sing-alongs, and it doesn't seem like life gets much better. 

 

I'm not sure I remember a lot of the banter, but there was the requisite PAUL banter. Many of us have probably heard the "Paul has been at more Wilco shows than we have" bit, but Jeff extended it last night by saying Paul once contacted them to let them know their show in New Zealand was great....and they hadn't been in New Zealand. Jeff didn't seem sure about the delivery on that one, but it was funny. He also said they'd tried to get Paul on staff, to work security, since he was clearly available and it could help him with his travel expenses. I think I saw Paul updating his resume after the show, so.... maybe make that offer again?  ;)  He also aped Paul quite well when hassling him about his request for the This Is 40 version of "I Got You." I'd call the delivery music-snob-chic. There was more to this, but I can't remember the details. (I'm not that far from 50 myself...I could hurt myself trying to remember.)

 

He told a story related to the song "Quarters"--that it is about his maternal grandfather who owned a tavern. He shared that the tavern was a terrible place, and he joked that he'd trepidatiously ask his grandfather, "When is mom coming back? She IS coming back, right?" He also remembered drinking chocolate milk out of a beer mug there.

 

At one point he checked his phone for texts from Susan, but there weren't any -- unlike the night before. Near the end of the show, someone in the audience reminded him to check his phone at which point there were several. The best one was the first: "I didn't think you were receiving texts due to your crabbiness."  :lol She is the best.

 

He also offered me a choice on my request since I had requested someone else's song (not the Wilco song Someone Else's Song but a song by someone else) and a song "I don't play acoustic very often." He said the choice was mine... but "it better not be that fucking Brian Wilson song."  :P  It wasn't.

 

Thanks again to the Tweedys for doing these shows for so many years. Last night Jeff said Chance the Rapper presented a one million dollar check to Chicago schools, which is awesome, but he's been doing this for 10 years for half the money. :lol He was trying to poke fun at himself, it was a nice reminder of how much they do for people in the city (Letters to Santa as well as other things) with their time and talents. I'm so happy to be able to share in this year after year!

 

Edited to add that Gun is such a goddamn great song. I wonder how old Jeff was when he wrote that 21? 22? That song holds up.

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Another excellent review, Bbop. Thank you.

 

It's so amazing how every solo benefit show is different and each a treasured experience.

 

While Friday's show was very neat and clean performance with a wonderfully attentive audience, I can't say that it was better than Saturday. Certainly, Saturday's show was going to be more rowdy with more hecklers for requests. Perhaps any flaws in Saturday's show were turned out to be wonderful intimate moments for those in the front of the theater and at time comic reliefs. I certainly had a great time.

 

Saturday's show was particularly interesting when Jeff took time time to applaud Bbop...:

 

"The number one fan... He's seen us more times than we've played...  In fact, soo prevalent on certain tours Wilco reached out for his services, it would work out just on logistics...;!

 

Jeff commented on the delight of receiving Bbop's letter mailed from New Zealand (Auckland?) to Wilco after the tour:

"Loved your show last night!!"....

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I would've enjoyed the fucking Brian Wilson song too, T, but YAMF is so great. And I am also guilty of singing Happy Birthday to "Brett."

 

I believe Paul was dubbed the King of Wilco Fans, a title of which is he certainly deserving. Maybe the next Solid Sound should have a Bbop exhibit. See all his handwritten show notes from the past 10 years!

 

I was telling some friends last night that I don't think I've ever not had fun at one of these benefit shows. No matter how the details go, it's going to be a good time. All hail the Tweedys!

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I'm not sure I'd use "bewildered" to describe him when he said this. That makes me think of someone saucer-eyed, surprised to find himself where he is or doing what he's doing (like Brian Wilson when I saw him in 2008 in Jackson Hole). All of Jeff's comments seemed more like attempts to "explain away" his forgetfulness in a way that might be more palatable than simply saying he was tired or worn out or not really "feeling"  learning/practicing/performing almost 30 more songs (added to the ones from Friday night). The mention of the meds, the "I don't know what I'm doing anymore"--they all felt like typical Jeff, self-deprecating quips. It seemed to me like he was just out of his groove at the beginning, and eventually he found it. After the first few flubs, he said something about the audience being "really great" about it or whatnot. I think the show could've gone a lot of ways at that point, but it was a warm, affectionate crowd (with the exception of the guy in the balcony--and even he wasn't so bad). In the end I thought Jeff seemed mellow but not angry or confused or anything negative.

 

Nice work on the recapping, Ms. Stone! Thanks for sparing me from trying to make out my chicken scratch, which I was sort of dreading since I think it was especially bad for this show. Perhaps "bewildered" wasn't the right choice of words (actually, I wrote "almost bewilderedly"). I certainly didn't mean to imply that he was in a daze or not all there or anything like that. Just that I read that particular comment I quoted as being typically self-deprecating, yes, but maybe also a little bit of wondering how he could be struggling so much. I think he knew that, to that point, he hadn't done particularly well from a performance standpoint and was just a tiny bit frustrated with himself. Maybe the support from the crowd did help him pull it together a bit or maybe he just started to get into his groove as you said, but either way, the show ended up being very enjoyable and overall pretty well played. :yes

 

Another excellent review, Bbop. Thank you.

 

Saturday's show was particularly interesting when Jeff took time time to applaud Bbop...:

 

"The number one fan... He's seen us more times than we've played...  In fact, soo prevalent on certain tours Wilco reached out for his services, it would work out just on logistics...;!

 

Jeff commented on the delight of receiving Bbop's letter mailed from New Zealand (Auckland?) to Wilco after the tour:

"Loved your show last night!!"....

 

Don't thank me...that was a pretty bad job of recapping. I'm not especially proud of it, and I blame it partly on a lack of sleep from the previous few nights. But thankfully others have filled in most of the notable parts of the banter, etc. :thumbup

 

As for Jeff's comments about me, I'm more than happy to fill the role of comic relief from time to time. I guess it comes with the territory. However, I'm not certain where the bit about New Zealand came from. I mean, I have been fortunate to have seen Wilco perform in New Zealand but as far as contacting them about a show they played there (when they weren't there?), well, I'm not sure I remember that one. Maybe Jeff just had Kiwi on the brain, as he suggested when answering the question about what his favorite city other than Chicago is — Auckland. And I know that the Wil-crew is a pretty well-oiled machine these days, so my presence wouldn't add much...except for the aforementioned comic relief! :headbonk

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You sang my name correctly. My name is Brett. :thumbup

 

Oh, and sorry I misheard/mis-reported your name, Brett...hope you did indeed have a good birthday! (Edit: Fixed the name above).

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I took the New Zealand stuff as an extension of his previous joke about you requesting songs he hadn't even written yet, P. Like, not only that, you're congratulating them on shows they haven't played yet!

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I took the New Zealand stuff as an extension of his previous joke about you requesting songs he hadn't even written yet, P. Like, not only that, you're congratulating them on shows they haven't played yet!

OK, sure! If only I had some advance knowledge about their future touring plans, it would certainly make my life much easier (hint, hint)...B)

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OK, sure! If only I had some advance knowledge about their future touring plans, it would certainly make my life much easier (hint, hint)... B)

 

I feel like King Wilco should know ALL THE THINGS.

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I feel like King Wilco should know ALL THE THINGS.

 

It's good to be the King.

 

Actually, the term that was used was "reigning king," implying that I am likely to be deposed soon (or perhaps sent off to pasture). Thus I await the forthcoming revolution... :ninjatorch

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Bbop, how many Wilco/Tweedy gigs have you seen? Thanks for your reviews, btw!! I always enjoy reading them!

 

I've been asked this more than a few times and the honest-to-goodness answer is I stopped keeping count years ago because A. whatever number it is wouldn't be all that impressive. I mean, like age, it's all just a number — 100, 200, 500, 1,000...what's the difference? — and anyway, you'd need to know how many shows the band and/or Jeff has played in total to even put that number into context; and B. I think some people get too caught up in their "personal statistics." I mean, I get it to a certain extent. We're hardwired as humans to try to organize and tabulate things, but I just try to remember that I've been lucky and that none of this is guaranteed to last forever, so we should try to experience as much as we can while we can, IMHO. :thumbup

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I've been asked this more than a few times and the honest-to-goodness answer is I stopped keeping count years ago because A. whatever number it is wouldn't be all that impressive. I mean, like age, it's all just a number — 100, 200, 500, 1,000...what's the difference? — and anyway, you'd need to know how many shows the band and/or Jeff has played in total to even put that number into context; and B. I think some people get too caught up in their "personal statistics." I mean, I get it to a certain extent. We're hardwired as humans to try to organize and tabulate things, but I just try to remember that I've been lucky and that none of this is guaranteed to last forever, so we should try to experience as much as we can while we can, IMHO. :thumbup

 

 

So you're saying *cue Dr. Evil's voice* ONE MILLION SHOWS????

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I've been asked this more than a few times and the honest-to-goodness answer is I stopped keeping count years ago because A. whatever number it is wouldn't be all that impressive. I mean, like age, it's all just a number — 100, 200, 500, 1,000...what's the difference? — and anyway, you'd need to know how many shows the band and/or Jeff has played in total to even put that number into context; and B. I think some people get too caught up in their "personal statistics." I mean, I get it to a certain extent. We're hardwired as humans to try to organize and tabulate things, but I just try to remember that I've been lucky and that none of this is guaranteed to last forever, so we should try to experience as much as we can while we can, IMHO. :thumbup

Fair enough! Regardless, I do really appreciate your taking the time to write your reviews!

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Fair enough! Regardless, I do really appreciate your taking the time to write your reviews!

Well, thanks for taking the time to check them out!

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We're hardwired as humans to try to organize and tabulate things, but I just try to remember that I've been lucky and that none of this is guaranteed to last forever, so we should try to experience as much as we can while we can, IMHO. :thumbup

 

That's a great perspective. I'm on board with you. Do you think came to this philosophy while waiting in line for your 672nd or your 674th Wilco show? 

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That's a great perspective. I'm on board with you. Do you think came to this philosophy while waiting in line for your 672nd or your 674th Wilco show? 

 

:lol :lol :lol

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Always appreciate the reviews and humble nature.

 

Keep up the good work, bbob.

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That's a great perspective. I'm on board with you. Do you think came to this philosophy while waiting in line for your 672nd or your 674th Wilco show?

Actually no. 333, to be exact. I remember it as if it was yesterday...B)

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