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Jeff Tweedy — 31 May 2024, Chicago, IL (Vic Theatre) [Annual Benefit Shows; Night 1 of 2]

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I don't know exactly how many years Jeff has been playing these benefit shows at the Vic now, and I'm sure a more respectable nerd would be able to give you that information off the top of his/her/their head, but it's just shy of 5 a.m., so sue me. Suffice it to say it's been the better part of two decades now — at least since that memorable Kawasaki disease benefit show organized by a friend in 2005 that another friend and I were fondly reminiscing about before tonight's show. Jeff's solo performances in Chicago have understandably evolved since those days, as both he and his audience have gotten grayer, and yet they continue to be a highlight of the concert calendar for many, both locally and for people from around the country.


To be even more precise, I'm not sure exactly when Jeff decided to adopt the format of allowing the first 30 people in line to request songs that would comprise the setlist for that night's show. That format itself has been tweaked over the years to be reduced to the first 20 in line getting to make requests with Jeff retaining control over (up to?) 10 songs on the setlist to what eventually happened tonight, which is Jeff playing exactly 20 requests. No more, no less.


The 20-song set is actually in keeping with just about all of Jeff's recent solo performances, which remarkably somehow always end up being 19 or 20 songs no matter how many stories he tells or tangents he goes on, but for whatever reason felt a tad short when it came to these benefit shows when I guess some of us had gotten used to some more rambling sets over the years. As he has been doing, Jeff did not take a real encore break (as in, he didn't really go off stage but explained when he would have and that it was more fun to be on stage when people were applauding) and that probably also shortened the duration of the set, which I clocked at 1 hour, 50 minutes. As Jeff joked in his introductory comments, "some of those (30-song) shows are still happening."


Speaking of introductory comments, Jeff always prefaces his performances at these shows by trying to temper expectations for the majority of the audience ("Charity is supposed to be painful," Jeff quipped, "I'm not responsible for the song selection at all,") as he explains the format of the show and gives a little what-for to the first 20 people in line who have requested a show made up of "Japanese B-sides and half-written songs" with little regard for the average fan.


Guilty as charged, I suppose, although I will say only that the one thing we don't get to know is what the song requests each person made actually were. Each requester has to submit two choices and Jeff chooses from between the two, so it would definitely be interesting to know what everyone's requests were and then we could more accurately evaluate what got played, etc. In a couple of instances, Jeff did indicate what the person's other choice had been — one person  requested the “punk” version of Passenger Side, which Jeff briefly gave a shot but decided he just couldn't pull off with an acoustic guitar and so went with Outtasite (Outta Mind) instead.


At any rate, all I'm saying is that there certainly is an art to making a request in this format. In the interest of full disclosure, my requests for this show were Black Eye (intended as a tribute of sorts to Steve Albini's widow Heather Whinna, who I remember always requesting the song at the 24-Hour Letters To Santa events at Second City back in the day) and the new song Feel Free (which Jeff played once at Largo last month). And Jeff chose the latter. I would have been happy with either, but in this case, I'm just glad he played a relatively new song for an audience that otherwise mostly might not otherwise have gotten to hear it.


At these shows, each song requester is also invited to submit a question for Jeff, and these often lead to some interesting and/or illuminating and/or comical visits to Banter Corner that are impossible to recap in their entirety here. But a couple of memorable tangents involved Jeff's favorite seafood — "crab legs, I guess" — as well as the stories he has told in various forms at other solo shows this year about his teenage years working in a liquor store.


For the audio nerds, a brief word to say that Jeff was plugged in for the first time at these shows in quite a while. That is to say, he reverted back to the more traditional setup of just having a vocal microphone and his guitar being plugged into an amplifier as opposed to his setup in recent years when his guitar actually wasn't plugged in at all and was simply amplified with a second microphone down by his waist. I'm not sure why the change this year, but he certainly needed it in order to make use of the volume pedal on Someday, Some Morning, Sometime, as well as to have the full jangliness of the 12-string on Kamera. A little birdie also told me that Jeff used a different vocal mike for the first time in a long time at this show, though as far as specs, I'm no expert (or even layman) as far as models go.


Anyway, as I wrote at the start, these Vic shows have certainly evolved over the years but maybe they've finally reached a point where if nothing else, they are at least within Jeff's comfort zone. He seems very much in control on stage and well, if he doesn't have much control over exactly what songs he's going to be playing on a given night, at least just about every other aspect of the performance seems to finally be within his grasp. No more deer in the headlights, we hope. Let's see what Night 2 brings.


Here was the complete setlist, as played, for Night 1 at the Vic in 2024:


new song-Feel Free

Radio King

Story To Tell


Pittsburgh (w/harmonica)

When The Roses Bloom Again

Someday, Some Morning, Sometime


Sunlight Ends

You Are My Face

Jesus Wept

I'm Kind Of In Love With You

Having Been Is No Way To Be

Please Be Patient With Me


Lou Reed Was My Babysitter

Outtasite (Outta Mind)

You Are Not Alone


Just Say Goodbye

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Thanks Bböp- Jeff’s voice sounded great to these ears and it was nice to be back at the Vic- been a minute!

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  • bböp changed the title to Jeff Tweedy — 31 May 2024, Chicago, IL (Vic Theatre) [Annual Benefit Shows; Night 1 of 2]


When The Roses Bloom Again

Someday, Some Morning, Sometime



Some nice choices there. Still sending psychic waves for The Unwelcome Guest tomorrow though. Ta.

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My bad, gents!
I look to correct the errors of my ways in exactly 21 days. 

Can’t wait!!

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