Jeff Tweedy and Wilco have made a career these past few years out of straddling the line between roots-rock revivalism and stark experimentalism. And judging from Monday night's concert on campus at I
Jeff Tweedy and Wilco have made a career these past few years out of straddling the line between roots-rock revivalism and stark experimentalism. And judging from Monday night's concert on campus at Indiana University, Tweedy should be happy he's found a comfortable place smack dab in the middle.
The band got equally boisterous receptions for gently rolling countrified ditties like "Forget the Flowers," Woody Guthrie rewrites like "California Stars" and for more forward-looking tunes such as the pulsating, 10-minute "Spiders (Kidsmoke)."
It was only five years ago that the band was famously dropped by Reprise Records after turning in the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" album, eventually finding themselves with a new label and the kind of story that media and music fans eat up with glee. Wilco was lionized in the press as a rock band with integrity, who would rather become label-less and give away its music for free online than compromise its recordings and artistic vision.
Fast-forward to 2006 and the band is a six-piece powerhouse with another heralded album under its belt (2004's "A Ghost Is Born," winner of two Grammy awards) and seemingly unlimited creative freedom. Tweedy just released another superb album with his side band Loose Fur and drummer Glen Kotche recently put out a third solo record.
On stage now, Wilco is whatever it wants to be: an angry psychedelic band with Tweedy screaming out druggy rants over swirling keyboard motifs ("A Shot in the Arm"); the Americana torch-bearers who recorded two albums worth of music based on forgotten Guthrie lyrics and opened Monday night's show with the rootsy "Airline to Heaven," one of the products of those sessions; or a Sonic Youth-esque triple-guitar assault team led by avant garde composer Nels Cline, pounding out wild melodies at blazing volume for the climax of "At Least That's What You Said."
And the receptive crowd certainly appreciated every version of Wilco, responding with loud cheers and even jumping in the aisles to the rockers, while dutifully quieting down for more reflective moments.
It has to be a joyous experience for the band at this point in its career, to be more appreciated than ever by America's youth, and to know that Tweedy and co. are giving the kids some much-needed rock and roll tutelage. Come to a Wilco show on a Monday night with final exams looming, learn about the kinds of music that came before us and get a hint of the possibilities of what lies ahead.
Here is Wilco's set list:
"Airline to Heaven"
"A Shot In The Arm"
"At Least That's What You Said"
"Hell Is Chrome"
"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart"
"Forget the Flowers"
"War on War"
"The Good Part"
"Heavy Metal Drummer"
"I'm the Man Who Loves You"
"The Late Greats"
"I'm Always in Love"
"I'm a Wheel"