IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Jeff Tweedy
By Jeff Elbel For Sun-Times Media February 14, 2014 8:20AM
Singer Jeff Tweedy entertains supporters for Chicago Mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel at the Park West Sunday January 30, 2011 during a fundraiser/special performance for the candidate. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 14, 2014 8:36AM
A hometown solo set by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy is a surefire sellout. For that matter, so is a pair of them. Tweedy has booked two nights at the Vic Theatre for his annual academic scholarship benefit concerts. If your tickets aren’t already in hand, prepare to dig deep.
Many would consider the expense to be worth it, but don’t expect fans to offer many spares. In addition to serving a cause dear to Tweedy’s heart, the shows are the stuff of dreams for true believers. In fact, it has become traditional that the first batch of people in line choose the evening’s set list. That doesn’t guarantee off-kilter surprises like the dramatic reading of Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” Tweedy gave at The Hideout in 2011 for Punk Planet founder Dan Sinker’s book release party, but it promises intriguing covers and satisfying deep tracks from Tweedy’s own catalog.
One assumes that Tweedy counts on the early arrival of these staunch patrons, rain or shine. He’ll need to spend time putting his own study skills to work in preparation for the night’s performance. Last year’s cover selections included “I’m Only Sleeping” by The Beatles, “Simple Twist of Fate” by Bob Dylan, “The Auld Triangle” by The Pogues, “I Wish I Was Your Mother” by Mott the Hoople and “You Are Not Alone” from Mavis Staples’ Tweedy-produced album. And that was just the first night.
The bulk of the set lists will consist of Wilco material, with intimate solo-acoustic interpretations of songs like “Via Chicago” replacing their noisier, more experimental counterparts captured on record. Expect the gamut of Tweedy’s projects to be represented, with the rare opportunity to hear Tweedy perform material from Loose Fur, Golden Smog and Uncle Tupelo.
Based upon the range of material performed since Tweedy began this concert series at the Vic in 2009, someone from radio should consider offering the first 30 people in line communal curatorship of a Tweedy-themed program. It would make for compelling listening, with no shortage of material.
♦ Jeff Tweedy, 8 p.m. Feb. 14-15, The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. $75-$150 (ages 18+over).(773) 472-0449; jamusa.com/the-vic. SPOTIFY playlist: http://spoti.fi/1kfJXtH