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Jeff Tweedy — 28 June 2023, Washington, D.C. (The Atlantis)

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OK everybody, straighten up. Don't slouch. Tatlock, tuck in your shirt and come here and let me do something about that cowlick! We might have a guest at any time in the form of a slightly grizzled singer-songwriter who has stopped by briefly to take the pulse of his audience. After all if there was a Web site where people discussed you and your work, where you could go anonymously and check out what people are saying, wouldn't you at least visit from time to time?


All of which is to say, welcome Jeff. (Or welcome back; maybe you never left.) Every now and then a comment made in passing tells me that Jeff is at least aware of what people are saying on here, as when he mentioned during tonight's eagerly awaited, sold-out show at the intimate new Atlantis venue that someone had commented that the previous night's performance at the neighboring 9:30 Club was "so mellow." Gesturing at himself and his acoustic guitar, Jeff quipped, "What did you think you were getting yourself into?" Haha, what indeed? A simple 90-minute set of songs spanning the career of a beloved singer-songwriter? A series of humorous vignettes interspersed with some tunes by a would-be comedian? A view into the complex mind of a veteran stage performer who regularly takes his audience to work with him, as it were, and lays bare his thoughts for all to see? All of the above?


OK, back to regularly scheduled programming. As you might have heard, The Atlantis is the newest venue operated by the folks behind the 9:30 Club and other D.C.-area music spots like The Anthem and Merriweather Post Pavilion. It's a room right around the corner from the current 9:30 Club that apparently has a capacity over just 400, but feels much more intimate than that with a small general admission standing area on the floor as well as a ringed balcony. From what I've been told, its design is an homage to the original 9:30 Club, which was located on F Street from 1980 to 1996. As one of the opening run of 44 marquee shows each costing $44 to celebrate 44 years of the 9:30, it's easy to see why it was so difficult to score a ticket for this show when they were first made available via lottery.


Certainly the venue took Jeff on a trip down memory lane as he stood on its triangular-shaped stage as a middle-aged man thinking back to all of the shows he had played at the 9:30 over the years, first as a member of Uncle Tupelo and then with Wilco and by himself. "Something about the shape of this room makes me shyer (than usual)," Jeff said four songs into tonight's show. "When I first played this type of stage in this town, I got to hide behind a pole most of the night. We opened for the Dead Milkmen, then Danny Gatton, then Teenage Fanclub. Then we started playing our own shows. And then we broke up. I'm gonna go through the whole list right now."


A couple of songs later, an actual list was brought out to Jeff and he continued to examine his past performance history. Confirming that the 9:30 moved to its current spot in 1996, Jeff scanned the list and announced that Wilco had played not once, not twice, but actually three times at the old location. "You're old!" a wiseguy in the audience yelled. "I'm old, that's true. My hip hurts," Jeff replied. Another guy in the balcony then shouted out, "You rock!" and Jeff deadpanned, "I know."


And so it went over the course of the show. The relative intimacy of the venue, combined with a receptive audience, seemed to lead both to a number of back and forths between Jeff and various audience members as well as just Jeff rambling on and on — sometimes to his own bemusement. For instance, he poked fun at the previous night's audience a couple of times, saying that past audiences were easy punching bags. But somehow that little bit turned into an extended visit to Banter Corner after he told a funny anecdote about and played the song An Empty Corner. "These are the kind of songs they wouldn't have been OK with last night. Stupid. The bigger the crowd, the dumber it gets. I don't make the rules. That's science. On this stage, we believe in science. Oh my God, am I still talking? Am I saying these words out loud?"


Then he decided to play Guaranteed and of course had to set it up with the always-entertaining bit about how he originally wrote a sweet song for his wife but had to change a lyric because she found the original too pandering. Before he could even play the song, though, a female audience member inquired, "Is she still your wife?" Which of course led Jeff on another funny tangent about the secret to a long and successful marriage. "We're more married than we were," he said with a knowing smile. "We just hate the same things. That's the recipe. You can like different things ... but if you don't hate the same things, it's hard. Hate's underrated; it gets a bad rap. We're all adults, we shouldn't pretend we don't hate."


Musically speaking, whether or not Jeff was actually struggling with his list of potential songs to play that he said was just filled with "all the saddest songs," he was at least a little more exploratory with his instrumentation tonight, judging by his use of a few different guitars (though no harmonica). Whereas he stuck almost exclusively to the favorite small-bodied Martin 018  (or is it an 00-18, you guitar nerds?) during the 9:30 show, he switched out a few different times at the Atlantis, using one of his 12-strings for Sad Kind Of Way and Kamera and, late in the show, a bigger-bodied Gibson on You Are Not Alone and Falling Apart (Right Now). Near the end of the set, Jeff brought up the four completely different shows he had played in Brooklyn leading up to these final two sets in Washington and joked that by the fourth night in Brooklyn, he realized that the songs he hadn't yet played were the ones "everyone wants to hear, because they're the songs I don't want to play."


Ultimately the Atlantis show proved to be a fun conclusion to this little run of East Coast solo shows. We got both a satisfying amount of songs and banter from Jeff, which doesn't always happen, including a several comedic bits I haven't even had a chance to mention (and isn't that what you come here for?) For instance, I was personally amused when a couple of different guys yelled out requests for some deeper cuts at one point — Hell Is Chrome was one, and Locator too, which actually seemed to pique Jeff's attention briefly — and it caused Jeff to quip, "Wow, you guys sure know a lot of my songs. It's awful...[pause]...nice of you."


And there was the moment when, after being rather polite and well-behaved for the first half of the set, the proverbial floodgates seemed to open and everyone started to shout out random requests and whatnot — someone behind me yelled out "Cult Of Personality," for example — Jeff looked out quizzically and asked, "What happened?" Then he took stock and continued, "Oh, I know what it is. On the eighth (sad song in a row), some people looked at their watches and started thinking, 'He's never gonna get to Heavy Metal Drummer.' It was a cogent analysis." And finally, I must squeeze in at least a mention of how Jeff joked that he had just learned a few weeks ago how to both strum and talk at the same time and he put it to use as part of a between-songs bit during which he briefly imitated narrating a nature documentary. You probably had to be there, but good times.


Anyway, here was the complete setlist, as played, for Jeff Sweetie's* debut at The Atlantis (*—term coined by support act Le Ren's guitarist Fez Gielen):


Remember The Mountain Bed

Story To Tell

I Am My Mother

Infinite Surprise

Impossible Germany

An Empty Corner


Don't Forget



You And I

Sad Kind Of Way


Whole Love

Hearts Hard To Find

Art Of Almost

Jesus, etc.

A Robin Or A Wren

California Stars

You Are Not Alone

Falling Apart (Right Now)

I'm Always In Love

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4 hours ago, bböp said:

From what I've been told, its design is an homage to the original 9:30 Club, which was located on F Street from 1980 to 1996.


I haven't been to the Atlantis, but the old 9:30 didn't have a balcony and it was in this weird "L" shape where one part of the "L" was around the corner from the stage and you could only see the performance on TVs hanging on the walls.  The ceiling was also approximately 6 feet high!  There were poles in the place like he mentioned and at the top of one of them was a camera man who filmed the performance for the TVs in the back.  The place was always about 200 hundred degrees and smelled nasty!


Changing gears, how the hell did you score tickets for this?!?!?   I live in DC and don't know a single person who got a ticket to any of the shows?

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3 hours ago, Bart said:

Changing gears, how the hell did you score tickets for this?!?!?   I live in DC and don't know a single person who got a ticket to any of the shows?

I got shut out of the lottery as well, but got lucky through other avenues like a few other folks. There was a fan exchange platform that I know a couple people got in through day of show. Guess you just had to be determined and 

willing/able to take it down to the last minute…

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Nice job!  I was beginning to think only famous or connected people got tickets to any of those shows.  It certainly seemed that way for the inaugural Foo Fighters show.


Was the fan exchange platform a Wilco thing or an Atlantis thing?  If it's the latter, where is it?  Hoping to get Jenny Lewis tickets for the Atlantis somehow.

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2 hours ago, Bart said:

Was the fan exchange platform a Wilco thing or an Atlantis thing?  If it's the latter, where is it?  Hoping to get Jenny Lewis tickets for the Atlantis somehow.

It’s just through the regular event page on Ticketmaster. You basically have to just obsessively refresh and get lucky. If something comes open, then you just buy it like any other ticket. It seems like most of the Tweedy tix I heard popping up were within a day or two of the show (or even a few hours before), which I assume happens when people’s plus-ones or whatever can’t make it or they release a few holds. Good luck!

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19 hours ago, Bart said:

Changing gears, how the hell did you score tickets for this?!?!?   I live in DC and don't know a single person who got a ticket to any of the shows?

My daughter scored tickets for Jeff. She's the only person I know who got any tickets for any of the 44 shows in the lottery. 

I was able to grab one more for a friend through the exchange on the day of the show, about 2 hours before doors opened.

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