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Benefit Mon Feb 17 2014

Jeff Tweedy Charms Vic at Solo Benefit

This wasn't the first time I've set an alarm to buy Jeff Tweedy solo tickets for his show at the Vic.

The first time was way back yonder in 2009, where my 17-year-old self eagerly bought the tickets with my parents credit card at 10am on a Friday morning during Winter Break, only to be utterly devastated to find out -- after purchasing the tickets, of course -- that the show was 18 and up. My parents call it one of the best shows they have ever seen. I sulked for the entire week.

Five years later, I finally got my chance to redeem the follies of my teenage self. Seeing a solo Jeff Tweedy show has long been on my bucket list, with reason Numero Uno being that Jeff Tweedy is the ultimate Chicago hometown golden boy, andfrontman of what may be the Chicago-iest Chicago band in recent times: Wilco. Tweedy and co. are practically an institution at this point, and every year around this time, Tweedy plays a string of solo shows at the Vic to benefit an academic scholarship for the Montessori school his children attended. Tickets to the show weren't cheap -- they ranged from $75-$150, but hey, they're tax deductible... I think.

Steep price or not, the show was worth every penny. With hair like a mad scientist and an arsenal of acoustic guitars that rivaled Neil Young's (OK, a stretch, but it was an impressive array nonetheless), Tweedy played a set of deep cuts, covers, and die-hard favorites.

Jeff Tweedy at the Vic 2014

Wilco hometown shows are an experience to behold, so I tried to temper my expectations in advance. I knew Tweedy has a penchant for some of the quickest-witted crowd banter in the game, but banter a good show does not make. Except... sometimes it does.

I've heard Tweedy's rapport with crowds before, so I wasn't completely in the dark about his charisma and verbal adeptness, but I wasn't prepared in the slightest to be gripped the way I was. The guy is cool, possibly the coolest musician I have seen grace the stage in the past few years (and I see a lot of shows). Tweedy made the Vic feel like a living room -- he took requests from the first thirty people in line, he engaged with almost every cat-caller in audience, and lobbed witticisms left and right throughout the whole show.

"Is that a flash? I can't help but strike a pose when I see cameras," he deadpanned while displaying a ridiculous "Blue Steel" stare at the audience. "It's an illness."

I never thought I would be laughing more frequently than singing along at a Jeff Tweedy show. And that is not a complaint.

This show also differed from every show I've seen in the past four years in one beautiful and crucial way: There was a marked absence of smart phone usage. Perhaps this was because the audience skewed older (it was a charity benefit, after all), or maybe it was because Tweedy created such an intimate vibe, but for the first time in years, I wasn't struggling to see past some d-bag holding his phone like a torch in front of my head. There was almost complete silence in the audience during his set, allowing us to fully bask in the great acoustics of the Vic. It was truly an immersive experience, a concert the way concerts used to be.

The set list was entirely by request, which for any Tweedy-philes (hello, guilty as charged) meant a setlist so deep and varied that Wilco-nerd glee was inevitable. He played outtakes from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that didn't make the album, he sang a haunting version of John Lennon's "God," he covered Revolver's "I'm Only Sleeping," and he grinned his way through a hilarious acoustic version of "Kicking Television." In short, the setlist was a dream, the show was a joy, and Tweedy is the man. Sorry Aloe Blacc.

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Infinite Jester / March 1, 2014 7:17 AM

I have seen Wilco at least 10 times and they never disappoint. The one downside is that I usually see them in Europe, and Jeff is less inclined to do stage banter there. I hope to see a solo show someday! Until then, I buy the road case versions of his live shows so I can laugh between the songs.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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