Jeff Tweedy Goes Solo In The District

Jeff Tweedy performing live in Washington D.C. (Credit: Francis Chung)
Jeff Tweedy performing live in Washington D.C. (Credit: Francis Chung)

Jeff Tweedy solo shows are pretty durn rare these days, especially away from Chicago, and more especially out here on the east coast. So it was an incredible treat to get the chance to see the Wilco-mastermind perform here in Washington D.C. at the historic Lincoln Theatre.

The entire set was nearly perfect: a mix of old classics from Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, intermingled with some newer fare from later albums, and even a few rarities tossed in. It was sparsely lit with a single spotlight, with a simple black curtain backdrop and a few guitars surrounding him in a half arc behind him. It was much like what I envision an old Bob Dylan acoustic show might’ve been like. It was at times both heartfelt and beautiful and yet surprisingly funny when Tweedy would cut wise with the sometimes overly-talkative audience. That Jeff Tweedy is one quick and witty dude.

And while there were many favorites from the night — “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” “Via Chicago,” “A Shot In The Arm,” “You Are Not Alone,” and a completely un-amplified rendition of “Acuff Rose” to close out the night — I was wholly enamored and taken with his acoustic performance of “Spiders (Kidsmoke).”

The version he played to open the entire show was so stripped down and re-imagined from it’s original Krautrock form that it even took me a few to figure out what song it was. But it was absolutely gorgeous, making me hear that song and it’s lyrics — now imbued with an even greater sense of melancholy and lonely stillness as he sings “It’s good to be alone” — in a totally new way. It truly set the tone for the rest of the superb show for me.

This mp3 here of that song is from the New York show at the Bowery Ballroom performed a few nights before I saw him (I couldn’t find my show yet)… But wow!