Jeff Tweedy + Glenn Kotche

Matt Perry

Jeff Tweedy fetes a future in the stand-up comedy, as Kotche beats waves through the crowd.

Jeff Tweedy

Jeff Tweedy + Glenn Kotche

City: Memphis, TN
Venue: Germantown Performing Arts Center
Date: 2007-01-16

There are at least two well-know sides to Wilco or, more specifically to the band’s lead singer, Jeff Tweedy. The first is that of a trailblazing, good-time-loving, KISS-covering, beer-soaked ex-alt-country rock ‘n roller. Playing a rollicking version of “Kingpin” last fall at the University of Mississippi, Tweedy dropped all pretense of exploration, defying those who call his band the American Radiohead by staying true to the roots of classic rock. While their last three albums have featured deep sonic explorations, Wilco’s performance was almost exclusively about playing good-time music. The band’s members are steeped in music history and have a deep appreciation for those who came before them -- thus, they make a point (in concert) of paying their respects. Of course, there’s a second side to the band, the one that engendered the American Radiohead comparisons in the first place. It’s this more experimental aspect that has pushed them beyond the security of their first two albums, earning the group’s status as "the most popular band you have never heard on the radio." In these endeavors, Tweedy, ever the genius, has surrounded himself with excellent supporting musicians. This is not a new idea -- Miles Davis hired the best sidemen in the world to help realize his concepts -- and it speaks to Tweedy’s commitment to his craft that he’s willing to change line-ups and collaborate with artists who are accomplished in their own right. Enter Glenn Kotche. Opening for Tweedy on the first night of a southern solo jaunt, the veteran drummer's hammering sent a wave of excited murmurs through the crowd. Kotche works in atmospherics and percussion the way talented artists work in oils and clay -- thriving in his true medium. Kotche's ability to deconstruct and rebuild a melody with a drum kit leaves one with the impression he or she has just watched an Olympic sport: total awe. Towards the end of his set, he opened the lids on more than 20 small boxes of crickets to help subsidize the jungle milieu in his song “Monkey Chant” -- a reminder that the other members of Wilco play a crucial role in the band’s innovations and singular sound. That brings us to a third and, in my opinion, under-discussed aspect of Jeff Tweedy’s musical personality: he’s a stand-up comedian. Coming on soon after Kotche, Tweedy devoted half his performance to comedy, dropping zingers in every form imaginable: short one-liners, long anecdotal stories made exponentially longer by the crowd egging him on, and physical comedy. He even acted out of his now-infamous altercation with a fan at a show in Missouri. Soon after starting the show with ultra-personal Being There gem "Sunken Treasure,” Tweedy launched into highlights from his recent family vacation to Mexico. He talked about soul food side-items for about 20 minutes and, towards the end of the night, led the sold-out crowd in a contest to see who could think of the best band name to describe a bowel movement (he claims that his son’s favorite is Green Day, though he might have been thinking of Dookie). Amid the one-liners and long rants, Tweedy did manage to squeeze in a few songs. He played an incredibly diverse set, including early Uncle Tupelo songs, Mermaid Avenue-era Woody Guthrie tunes, and tracks from the soon-to-be-released Wilco record. He even played a Golden Smog number that he claimed was recorded in Memphis. In other words, there were many non-hilarious musical highlights (and not just from Kotche) -- most notably, "Theologians" and the new stuff. By the end of the evening Tweedy had given a good sampling of his diverse catalog. While the songs were executed well, the overall theme of the show was, as he himself proclaimed, "Jeff Tweedy: The Yuck-Yuck Guy working the comedy circuit... Another facet to an already multifaceted man.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.