Friday, November 18, 2005

"We Worship the Dark Lord"

Jeff Tweedy @ Tribeca Performing Arts Center 11/17/05
I tried to get a ticket to see this show when they went on sale last month. I ended up waiting in line for 3 hours only to find out that they'd sold out when I was a block away (the line for tickets wrapped around 5 or 6 blocks), so I was delighted when I found out yesterday morning that there was a stand-by line and that on Wednesday night (Tweedy played there 2 nights in a row), everyone in the stand-by line got in. So forward to last night. I get there and 2 girls are trying to sell me their tickets for $25 a pop (tickets were supposed to be free for this event). I talked them down to $20 but I told them that I wanted to check out the situation first (i.e. I wanted to see what a real ticket looked like to make sure I wasn't getting scammed and also I wanted to see how long the line was). It was cold as hell, so the prospect of waiting in the stand-by line for over an hour (they don't let people on the stand-by line get in until 8:15) filled me with dread, so I walked back over to where the 2 girls where standing, but of course they weren't there anymore. Presumably, they'd gotten rid of their tickets. So, left with no other recourse, I went back to the stand-by line and waited. Miraculously, as they were letting people in (ticketholders got to go in at 7), some guy walked by me asking if anyone was alone since he had an extra (free) ticket. Of course, I yelled out and so I got in immediately thanks to a complete stranger! What makes this story even better is that we got in so early, we got to sit in the front row, a little bit to the right! And all for free! Unbelievable.

At about 8:15, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche took the stage. He played a solo set with just him on drums (and occasionally on vibes or a xylophone; I couldn't tell) and some accompanying tape loops. It wasn't Cream's "Toad" or anything that indulgent, though, thankfully. He tuned his drums specifically for the show and not only played them traditionally, but pulled a long, dangling piece of string that he'd tied to one of his drums (I couldn't tell which one) and at one point even used one of his drumsticks as a paintbrush on one of the snares. It was definitely weird, but quite good. I'd never seen anything quite like it. Obviously, he's very influenced by avant-garde composers like Cage and Stockhausen, but he also has a thing for Brazilian music as well. At one point he covered a Jao Gilberto composition towards the end of his solo set.

And then after about 45 minutes, he left and 5 minutes later, Jeff Tweedy came on with just an acoustic guitar in hand. He played for about an hour and his set including a few songs which I didn't recognize, but many which I did, including "Summerteeth" (complete with audience backing "oohs" and "ahhs") and "She's a Jar" from 1999's Summerteeth, a Woody Guthrie song whose name eludes me, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and "War on War" from 2002's masterpice Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and a few songs (opener "Muzzle of Bees", "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" and 1 other) from last year's flawed but intriguing A Ghost is Born. In particular, the Ghost material was a revelation. On record, "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" is a long (almost 10 minute) piece reminscent of the Krautrock of Neu! (in fact, according to Tweedy, it's a direct tribute), but when he stripped it down to just his voice and acoustic guitar, it reveals its roots as an almost plaintive folk song. The title track from "Summerteeth" was also a revelation as I preferred it to the version on the record as well.

After a short break, he came out for not just one or 2 encores, but an entire mini-set, thus upping the length of the show to an hour and a half. After a beautiful rendition of Being There's "Sunken Treasure" (a song that features some of Tweedy's most affecting vocals and lyrics; he really sang the hell out of his song), Glenn came out with fellow Wilco (and Loose Fur) member Jim O'Rourke and we were treated to an impromptu Loose Fur mini-set featuring the terrific "Whistling Jesus", which will appear on their next record (which they just finished recording, according to Tweedy). Something really funny happened after they finished playing this song. Someone in the audience yelled out "yay Jesus" to which Tweedy replied with the title of this post and further adding "think about the name; it's Loose Fur" (get it?). Brilliant. Anyway, after that O'Rourke walked off and Jeff and Glenn proceeded to play "Heavy Metal Drummer" complete with Glenn's hysterical Led Zeppelin-esque drum fills. After that, I thought that was gonna be it, but Tweedy came back out with just his guitar to play "The Lonely 1", another song from Being There that I adore. An appropriate ending to a great night with an even greater price (free). I want to thank John (if by some strange chance you're reading this) for giving me your extra ticket.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure that was kotche doing the solo drum thing...i saw jeff tweedy at messiah and it was some other guy who opened-can't remember his name and i don't think i saved my ticket stub.
pretty weird stuff--some of it i dug though.

timmie stevens

11:40 PM

Blogger japanesegodjesusrobot said...

Yes I'm positive. I can show you the ticket stub and concert program to prove it. :-) Kotche also came out towards the end of Tweedy's solo set along with Jim O'Rourke and they played a mini Loose Fur set, which was also terrific.

Where's Messiah, BTW?

10:54 AM


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