Wilco | 02.16.08 | Chicago

Words by: Carlye Wisel | Images by: Donald Rasmussen

Wilco :: 02.16.08 :: Riviera Theatre :: Chicago, IL

Jeff Tweedy :: 02.16
If there's one thing Wilco fans have, it's dedication.

Lined up for blocks hours before the show, patrons braved Chicago's icy cold, wind-whipped winter, and later refused to leave at the end of the night without hearing at least one more song. Standing and waiting for Wilco from beginning to end paid off as the band's five-night residency at the Riviera Theatre perfectly explained why tickets sold out immediately and were being resold for hundreds of dollars. Tweedy and the boys know how to return the favor.

With a goal of playing "the complete Wilco," i.e. every song off their studio albums, during these dates, Saturday's show featured a special guest appearance, an unexpected encore, heaps of favorites and 32 songs focused primarily on A.M. and Being There.

Jeff Tweedy, dressed in jeans and a denim jacket opened with "Someone Else's Song" from Being There, delivering a performance that instantly proved why he's the type of musician who is best heard in a live setting. They gave the Riviera, a large, expansive, multi-tiered venue, the same atmosphere as a tiny club, which is perhaps the key to Wilco's charm, which possesses a deep resonance within zealous fans.

"Hell Is Chrome" had an unforced, wailing guitar solo, "Handshake Drugs" featured a seamless meld of frenzied outer space instrumentals, and guitarist Nels Cline single-handedly revived the crowd on "Muzzle of Bees." "Via Chicago" garnered more yelps later in the song than earlier, possibly due to the extremely noisy instrumental break paired with blindingly bright lights, which was an all-around painful experience until they effortlessly and impressively flowed right back into the song's more conventional parts.

With the audience energized throughout terrific renditions of crowd pleasers like "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" and "Shot in the Arm," the clapping was almost deafening after A.M.'s "It's Just That Simple," which featured bassist John Stirratt on vocals.

Tweedy played mind games with the crowd before "Too Far Apart," asking, "How many people here hate to raise their hand? Aw, you guys are too smart." He stretched out his voice at the end in an attempt to hit high notes, which he met with decent success. "We'll probably play a few more songs and then we'll probably take an intermission, like The Dead," mused Tweedy before playing "Hate It Here" from the group's most recent release, Sky Blue Sky.

When Wilco's frontman says he'd like to bring out a friend, you know it's going to be good. Violin virtuoso and fellow Chicagoan Andrew Bird lent a fittingly beautiful hand on "Jesus, Etc.," "Forget The Flowers," "Dash 7" and "Christ for President." Bird was difficult to hear, but dynamic when audible.

Wilco :: 02.16 :: Chicago
Rounding out the first set with "Walken," featuring puzzlingly large guitar theatrics by Pat Sansone, and "I'm The Man Who Loves You" with a solo by Tweedy instead of Cline's usual spastic one, the crowd was given a set break and a chance to go to the bathroom. "Not all at once, though," joked Tweedy before the final song. "That would be gross."

They returned to the stage quickly with "The Late Greats," followed by "Heavy Metal Drummer," which was met by immediate shrieks after its notable two-second intro. Andrew Bird re-emerged to whistle alongside Tweedy on "Red-Eyed And Blue," the first of the set's five songs off of 1996's Being There. The second set felt significantly more like a rock show when juxtaposed against the country-inflected tunes of the first half. That rock feeling was further defined with "I Got You (at the End of the Century)," "A Magazine Called Sunset," "Casino Queen" and "Monday," which had another metallic mix of pounding drums, clanging cymbals and crazed guitars.

For as much energy as the audience had the entire night, they somehow stepped it up to shout responses to Tweedy's repetitive, "How can I?" on "Kingpin." He coaxed more intensity out of them by teasing that the Friday crowd could have done it better.

"This is so much better than rehearsing for free," laughed Tweedy, before inviting Andrew Bird to join them on "Passenger Side" and "Dreamer in my Dreams," which featured keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen's first notable solo of the evening.

Though "The Lonely 1" was preceded by a farewell greeting, the fans weren't ready for the show to end. Even after the house lights had come up and crew members shuffled onstage to start unplugging cords, roars from the audience for an encore continued to grow until it became evident that no one was leaving until Wilco came back.

Returning with a blunt "OK," Tweedy and the boys, as usual, gave the crowd what they wanted. Closing the night out with "ELT" and "Hoodoo Voodoo," Wilco showed that they were listening to every word the fans had to say.

02.16.08 :: Riviera Theatre :: Chicago, IL
Someone Else's Song, Hell Is Chrome, Handshake Drugs, Muzzle Of Bees, Via Chicago, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Hotel Arizona, A Shot In The Arm, Impossible Germany, It's Just That Simple, When You Wake Up Feeling Old, Too Far Apart, Hate It Here, Jesus, Etc.#, Forget The Flowers#, Dash 7#, 17. Christ For President#, Walken, I'm The Man Who Loves You
E1: The Late Greats, Heavy Metal Drummer, Red-Eyed And Blue, I Got You (At The End Of The Century), A Magazine Called Sunset, Monday, Casino Queen, Kingpin, Passenger Side#, Dreamer In My Dreams#, The Lonely 1#
E2: ELT, Hoodoo Voodoo
# w/ Andrew Bird

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MKIVPhishHead Sat 2/23/2008 12:59PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I love Wilco.

flygolf starstarstarstarstar Sat 2/23/2008 01:32PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Amazing, looking forward to hearing this soon... you really have to see Jeff Tweedy and Wilco live.

I can't believe Wilco hasn't been announced at any festivals yet... 10KLF, All Points West, All Good, Langerado, High Sierra, Bonnaroo, Coachella or Rothbury.

Does it really cost that much to book Wilco?

mikemac9317 Sat 2/23/2008 05:47PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


One of the best live acts today. Seen them play numerous times and never been dissapointed in the least

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Sat 2/23/2008 08:26PM
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Just Awesome.

kirkbrew starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/24/2008 09:01AM
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Wilco do a lot of fests (or have in the past). I don't like seeing Wilco at a fest. They tend to rip through songs instead of taking their time.

Keep an eye out for bootlegs of the last 2 shows since they were simulcast on WXRT.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/24/2008 09:12PM
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Nicely done Carlye & Don. It's Sunday night, 2/24, and I'm just back from the Wilco show in New Haven CT. They played in a grand theater, and the sound was exceedingly good. Lyrics were decipherable, and chord progressions and bridges were clearly definitive. As an older music fan whom attends many, many, many concerts, I found it particularly nice that this band has really defined itself as a AAA band. It's nice not to have to worry about whether the drunk 17 year-old behind you is going to puke, pushin n' shovin, or bimbo chatterboxes trying to hold a conversation in the middle of a rock concert. I really enjoyed the show tonight, and I have enjoyed Wilco since the A.M. days. I hope more artists/musicians can find inspiration in an artist such as Tweedy.

curtbraski starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/24/2008 11:40PM
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Wilco at Tips!! whose goin????

kirkbrew Mon 2/25/2008 06:43AM
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tourfan - That's funny. My first Wilco show was in 2001 in Ann Arbor and I got puked on by some kid.

BORTMULE starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/25/2008 08:26AM
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another review of the run is here: http://www.glidemagazine.com/hiddentrack/representative-of-the-midwest-diggin-on-wilco/#more

what an amazing run of shows!

aquariumdrunk Mon 2/25/2008 08:31AM
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"It's nice not to have to worry about whether the drunk 17 year-old behind you is going to puke, pushin n' shovin, or bimbo chatterboxes trying to hold a conversation in the middle of a rock concert."

You've obviously never seen them in Chicago, tourfan! :) Unfortunately, their crowds back in Chicago were, and reportedly still are, full of chatter boxes and idiot pseudo fans. Thankfully, I was able to catch them enough times before things REALLY took off post Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Regardless, they're still a favorite!

KCReb starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/25/2008 08:48AM
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Amazing band. Tweedy is no doubt one of the best. I'll see you in Houston in 2 weeks!!

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/25/2008 10:31AM
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God I wish I had soundboards of that run... Wilco is amazing..

biged Mon 2/25/2008 11:45AM
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I have the best seats in the house at the Ryman on Sunday. I cant freaking wait. I love this band so much!!!!

guitardave starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/25/2008 11:47AM
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Wilco kicks ass. They've got it all, (the tunes, the lyrics, the jams, vintage gear, tight harmonies) and they did it on their own terms. I've never seen them live, though, hopefully I won't get barfed upon.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Tue 2/26/2008 04:43AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

barf, that reminds me.......

kirkbrew starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/26/2008 06:01AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"Unfortunately, their crowds back in Chicago were, and reportedly still are, full of chatter boxes and idiot pseudo fans."

Eh??? Well, your reports are WRONG. Lolla and the Millennium Park shows recently had their share of party-kids, but all the Riv, Vic and Aud shows I have seen were to the other extreme. Very quiet, very attentive music fans. Totally different from other cities where I have seen Wilco.

And if you saw pre YHF Wilco, you have come nowhere close to seeing this band.

airball starstarstarstarstar Tue 2/26/2008 10:04AM
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Did anyone go to the Chicago shows and see video cameras? I'm so hoping they make a live DVD one of these days. Seems like the Chicago run would have been perfect. Can't wait to see 'em again in Des Moines.

hnkscrpio starstarstarstarstar Wed 2/27/2008 12:34PM
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Yeah Kirkbrew, you the man. I went to friday night at the Riv, fantastic show. Didn't run into any chatter boxes, or your so called "pseudo fans". About all Aquariumdrunk did with his comment is make himself look like a preachy ass fool. Like you were never seeing a band for the first time. A lot of people stumble onto some of their favorite bands. So what if someone at the show wasn't there to see Wilco back in the nineties, they still have every right to go to the show and not be called a "pseudo fan" by some conceded jerk like yourself. Hey bud, let's not forget that your name isn't pre Yankee Hotel either.

UnceBegunce starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/6/2008 12:21PM
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Wilco is sick... airball, those cameras could be for clips for their website. At NYE Umphrey's in 06 I saw cameras and signs saying that they were taping the show, so I thought it would be a DVD. But I found later that they were just using it to post clips on the website... either way you should be able to catch some clips of the show.