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Jeff Tweedy — 23 June 2023, Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn Made) [Night 2 of 4]

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OK, finally getting off my lazy ass and getting this one started. In a way, I'm glad I didn't get around to chiming in on either of Jeff's Brooklyn Made shows until now, because while there were some similarities between the two nights, the vibe of the crowd was quite different and that made for a pair of unique evenings.


I've been known to remark that when it comes down to assessing a Jeff Tweedy solo acoustic show, it usually comes down to whether he's in more of a mood to play or a mood to talk — and, of course, what your preferred amount of each happens to be. But of course there's also a third factor that you always have to take into consideration, and that is the audience. (Actually, you could say there is a fourth factor, too, and that would be the type of venue, but I think that usually doesn't play as big a role as people think and often goes hand in hand with the type of audience you have.)


Anyway, back to the audience. The thing is, you want a lively enough one to have some funny exchanges with Jeff and of course one that will participate when appropriate. Ideally you almost need someone to "play the fool" and serve as a good-natured foil for Jeff without things getting too tense or serious. But the flip side of audience interaction is you don't want to have too rowdy a crowd where people are yelling things that they perceive to be funny all the time or to have one person take over and/or become the center of attention. It's a fine line, as I've also been known to say.


Unfortunately, that line got crossed a bit tonight when one guy who Jeff later said had already been on his "danger radar screen" — he had a funny bit about how whenever he takes the stage, he has a knack for scanning the crowd and being able to identify the potential danger zones — started to get into it with Jeff in not a good way. I guess people around the heckler were already aware that he was not only inebriated but also on some foreign substance(s), but subsequently it was revealed that he was singing parts of songs as if they were the punchline of a joke so as to be distracting as well as standing perpendicular to the stage — sideways, as it were — in an almost-menacing fashion to the point where Jeff said something about it, joking that he should "square it up and enjoy the show." (I was also reminded later that the heckler also loudly bellowed, "Who the fuck is Elizabeth?" after Jeff had introduced and bantered a bit with the courtroom sketch artist Elizabeth Williams, who had been invited — or hired, I guess, by Team Tweedy — to document this run of shows in Brooklyn.)


At one point, the heckler had observed/inquired about whether Jeff was going to not repeat a song — he hadn't to that point — over the course of his four-show Brooklyn run as part of a point in the show where a number of different back and forths were being had between Jeff and various crowd members. Jeff initially demurred, saying he had wanted to play a new song that he had played on Night 1. But a little later when the heckler returned to the no-repeats mantra, that set Jeff off to the point that he made a comment about how no-repeat shows "aren't badges to put on your sash," not something to be "collected, like an early Lisa Frank or some rare stamps" and how "my songs are for everyone." I guess the guy doubled down or made it known he had a request or something because Jeff then asked him what he wanted and he yelled out in a very spoiled child tone that he wanted to hear Cars Can't Escape. Jeff quickly shot back, "If I play it, will you leave?"


Somehow things quieted down enough for Jeff to play the next song he actually wanted to play — Hearts Hard to Find — before he came back around to the heckler's request of Cars. When he strummed the opening chords, a big whoop went up, from the heckler, presumably, and Jeff drily said, "Keep it in your pants," before playing the song. Afterward I think I heard the heckler making a commotion about how he was going to live up to his end of "the bargain" and leave, though I'm not sure if he actually did or if he was escorted out (at least out of the music room and into the adjoining bar area).


In a way, as I said, it's a fine line when it comes to this type of behavior because on the one hand, it's awkward for everybody in the room. But on the other, as Jeff admitted the following evening, he felt like he played way better after being subjected to what he likened to Navy SEAL training for a singer-songwriter. And you have to admit that, especially on a midshow sequence that went from Less Than You Think straight into Impossible Germany and then followed by the much-loved acoustic arrangement of Art Of Almost, he did kind of take things to another gear.


However, along with the more focused level of performance also came with a bit more of a short temper and wariness that surely had to be the result of the heckler. For instance, when he started to play You and I, some guy in the back yelled out that he "could do the Feist part" and Jeff immediately shot back, "No, you can't." And earlier, when discussing the hip problems that he's been open about — Jeff has talked recently about how he will soon need to have both hips replaced — another man made a joke about how he would be getting "a shot in the thigh," and Jeff sort of rolled his eyes and quipped, "Thanks for your contributions to the night's entertainment."


All in all, it was one of those shows where Jeff kind of lost control of the the audience fairly early on and the crowd vibe kind of tilted a bit to that wrong side of the aforementioned fine line, obviously led by the heckler's outburst(s). But whereas that might have completely derailed a show in the past, it shows that Jeff has reached a point in his career where almost nothing really fazes him any more, at least in terms of giving an audience at least a certain level of professionalism. I feel like in the past, Jeff has veered more wildly with some of his solo shows where he can really go way above and beyond but also get that "deer in the headlights" look and make a beeline off stage at the earliest possible opportunity. Nowadays, I feel like no matter what happens, he's going to give his best for a certain amount of time. I don't know if this makes sense to anybody else, but it does to me as I write it.


At any rate, here was the complete setlist as played for Night 2 in Brooklyn:


Remember The Mountain Bed

Story To Tell

Normal American Kids

Many Worlds (w/harmonica)



Less Than You Think>

Impossible Germany

Art Of Almost

Hearts Hard To Find

Cars Can't Escape

Don't Forget

Sky Blue Sky

You And I

New Madrid

Dawned On Me

Ashes Of American Flags

I'm Always In Love

The Lonely 1

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