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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, December 6

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Sun Dec 14 2014

Review: Wilco @ Riv, 12/5, 8, 11

Whenever you see one band three times in a week it's going to reveal the best and worst of them. You'll experience why super fans stick around for years, and how someone seeing them for the first time can be sold immediately. But you'll also see how there's some truth to a lot of the negative things said about them. In the case of Wilco's Winterlude over the past week, the good definitely outweighed the bad.

These residencies come with high expectations. Wilco's had their phases. They can be alt-country, a little experimental or just a straight-up rock band. As Jeff Tweedy put it on Monday, coincidentally when he was least talkative, the goal of these shows wasn't to play every Wilco song. It was just to play a lot of songs. For a hometown crowd, they can afford to mix things up by running out a slew of drab songs in a row (i.e., Monday's set) or playing alternate versions of the hits (i.e., the last 3 or 4 songs each night being acoustic, "Camera" on the 5th) or playing rarities from soundtracks (i.e., "Just a Kid" on the 5th, "Blasting Fonda" on Thursday). It's not like they're forgetting crowd pleasers like "I Got You" or "Heavy Metal Drummer."

For super fans who have seen the band a lot, hearing rare stuff is a nice treat because it's not "I'm the Man Who Loves You" again. However, every show is someone's first - the kid with his parents, the out-of-towner who goes on a whim, etc. Balancing a setlist to appeal to everyone isn't easy, but it's hard to argue with many of their selections. And, like on Thursday, Tweedy had to acknowledge that sometimes the transitions can be a little ridiculous.

Really, they're just a local band answering high demand with a bunch of shows that veer from the standard sets. When they're locked in, they're terrific. Even if Monday was a snoozefest to start, it ended on high notes from the last song of the set ("Spiders") through both encores with energy that came out of nowhere. It's sort of amazing to see a band turn from lifeless to vibrant in a matter of minutes. Not many can do that. They picked me up from a grouchy mood (bad view, stuck in the smoking section, surrounded by chatterboxes) to walking out with a smile. (But I still want to know what the deal is with the guy who knew every word to the Mermaid Avenue songs yet clapped out of time.) And Thursday's show was a tour de force highlighted by not-so secret weapon Nels Cline crushing it on guitar, especially on the blistering close to "Hotel Arizona." "Hoodoo Voodoo" to start the encore was a hell of a time, too.

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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

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  & 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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