Golden Smog Reunion Concert at First Avenue, April 2022

Golden Smog Reunion- First Avenue, Minneapolis

By Tyler Asay

The supergroup Golden Smog was first formed in Minneapolis in 1989. The band was always seen as a rotating cast of musical characters from the Midwest dedicated to alternative country and superior songwriting and has included members of all your favorite bands: Big Star, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Wilco, and more. They have put out four records as Golden Smog since 1995 and hadn’t performed live since 2019. 

These Golden Smog reunion shows were originally scheduled for April of 2020 but were obviously postponed due to the pandemic. Over the weekend, Golden Smog got back together for two nights to perform at Minneapolis’s legendary First Avenue with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Gary Louris & Marc Perlman from The Jayhawks, Dan Murphy from Soul Asylum, Kraig Johnson, and Jody Stephens from Big Star.

Night one, Saturday, April 2nd, had the band take the stage in great spirits to open with “Looking Forward To Seeing You” from 1998’s Weird Tales. The band sounded great together; a bunch of old pals getting back together like they were high schoolers in a garage (except with probably combined 50+ years of touring experience under their belts). 

The charm of Golden Smog comes down to everyone taking turns at the mic. Like a Gen X Traveling Wilburys, it’s exciting to hear Louris sing a cover of David Bowie’s “Starman” before  Tweedy goes right into “Walk Where He Walked.” The encore on night one started with Tweedy & Louris as a duo singing “Radio King” from Down By The Old Mainstream

Night two featured similar setlists with some important differences: Different covers were performed each night (night one had the Brian Wilson classic “Love And Mercy” and night two includes a take on The Kinks’ “Strangers”). Both nights featured Jeff Tweedy’s son, Sammy, joining for a cover of Neil Young’s “Helpless”. To have these old friends back together, playing this music that is absolutely timeless, has got to be one of life’s most special gifts. To quote “Radio King”:

“Your music fills my car
And your voice breaks every time
I’m still wonderin’
If I know who you are
I hang on every line”

Setlist (Night 1):
Looking Forward to Seeing You
Lost Love
To Call My Own
V
Yesterday Cried
Glad & Sorry (Faces cover)
Red Headed Stepchild
Starman (David Bowie cover)
Walk Where He Walked
He’s a Dick
Pecan Pie
Ill Fated
Long Time Ago
Signed D.C. (Love cover)
I Can’t Keep From Talking
Won’t Be Coming Home
You Make It Easy
Love and Mercy (Brian Wilson cover)
If I Only Had a Car
Corvette

Encore:
Radio King
Listen Joe
Helpless (Neil Young cover) (Sammy Tweedy on lead vocals)
Until You Came Along

Setlist (Night 2):
Looking Forward to Seeing You
Lost Love
To Call My Own
V
Making Waves
Glad & Sorry (Faces cover)
Red Headed Stepchild
All the Same to Me
Easy to Be Hard (Galt MacDermot cover)
Frying Pan Eyes
Listen Joe
Long Time Ago
Pecan Pie
You Make It Easy
Ill Fated
Strangers (The Kinks cover)
Scotch on Ice
She Don’t Have to See You
Won’t Be Coming Home
I Can’t Keep From Talking
If I Only Had a Car

Encore:
Please Tell My Brother
Radio King
Helpless (Neil Young cover) (with Sammy Tweedy)
Until You Came Along (with Sammy Tweedy)

Encore 2:
Revolution Blues (Neil Young cover)

Wilco (The Band) At The Royal Theatre, February 12, 2010

Wilco Front of House Series 21

Wilco

LISTEN NOW: The Royal Theatre, Victoria, BC – February 10, 2010

By Tyler Asay

Wilco is a band. Wilco (The Album) is a record by the band Wilco. Released in June of 2009, Wilco’s self-referential seventh studio album brought Wilco (The Tour) to about 140 cities throughout ‘09 and ‘10, including a stop at Victoria, British Columbia’s Royal Theatre (Capacity: 1,416) on February 12th, 2010. 

The Chicago band, led by singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy, has always been notorious for riotous live shows that tow the line between full-hearted American rock and roll with jammy interludes and a sweet, sensitive delicacy that always promotes musicianship. This show at the Royal Theatre shows Wilco at the peak of their powers; a band that has found their groove that they will ride all the way to present day, and they haven’t lost a step since. Listening back twelve years later, and you can hear this beloved rock act delivering the goods to a crowd that truly cares.

The show opens with “Wilco (The Song)”, the album’s (and band’s) title track. “Wilco love you, baby” winks the chorus, with a proto-Siri styled voice announcing the band members to the crowd: “On bass, John Stirratt; on keys, Mikael Jorgensen; multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone; on drums, Glenn Kotche; on guitars, Nels Cline; & and on lead vocals and guitar, Jeff Tweedy

“Ladies & Gentlemen, Wilco.”

Wilco immediately follows up with the bombastic opener from their classic 2002 record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” In comes the noise, in comes the drums, in comes the acoustic guitar. “I am an American aquarium drinker,” sings Tweedy over a cacophony of whirling guitars, and the show is on. “What was I thinking when I said…” is answered by an ecstatic fan:

“HELLO!” 

In 2010, Wilco was at the point of their career where every song, including deep cuts, felt like a hit parade. Seven albums in and jumping back and forth between the rollicking jam “Bull Black Nova” and the total groove of Sky Blue Sky’s “You Are My Face” feels absolutely natural, especially since the band has settled into this natural live setting. Even though the band is known for their ever-changing studio evolution record to record, this six-piece pulls these songs apart and pieces them back together. Perfect example: A song like “A Shot In The Arm,” from 1999’s power pop leaning Summerteeth, retains its sunshine bright harmonies but leans into the darkness a little, especially when played up against the bitter and beautiful “At Least That’s What You Said.”

Before launching into “Nothing’severgoinastandinmyway(again)”, Tweedy told the audience that Victoria has “Shot up their list of favorite places” and mentioned the only way to get to the city is by boat. This was Wilco’s first time playing in Victoria, BC. The band played at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle two nights before (February 10th, 2010) and at David Lam Park in Vancouver the night after (February 13th).

The communal vibe of this Wilco show was ever present in a “Jesus, Etc.” singalong which Tweedy described as a “litmus test to see if we should come back to a city.” Through laughter, applause, and pure joy heard in the voice of the crowd, you can hear Tweedy’s positive response. “That was good! That was great, that was better than good!”

2010 was a raw and ragged period for the live version of Wilco, and this show presents a portrait of the band hitting their stride and playing loose with the setlist and arrangements. Towards the end of set one, the band knocked all of their “fan favorites” out of the way in a row: a super slick seven minute “Impossible Germany” (“This is the first time Nels ever worn tennis shoes on stage, and I think he just dunked on you guys” – Jeff Tweedy) goes right into a blissful “California Stars.” Wilco is rounding the bases here, it’s all a homerun.

The main set reaches a climax with Wilco (The Album) deep cut “Sonny Feeling,” a spirited jangle doused in sunshine bright harmonies. Tweedy reflects on the hypocrisy of suburbia and sharp wordplay with lines about “mini-mart clerks” and “Eminem’s suburban gangster flow” while the band rockets through a power pop bounce and a classic Nels Cline ripper of a solo. Tweedy sings in an skeptical but optimistic voice,

I’m on my way home

From my high school

I’m always contemplating

Why the kids are still cruel

Oh, the kids are still cruel

Wilco then brings it home with the Beatles-styled strut of Sky Blue Sky’s “Hate It Here” and “Walken”, before closing out with live classic “I’m The Man Who Loves You.” After a brief break and cheering applause, the band returns to the stage with a surprise: a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s epic “Broken Arrow.”

“Broken Arrow”’s construction reflects its title: a fractured tower of razor sharp melodies, masterfully pieced together by one of the few modern bands who could feasibly do it. Wilco’s take is a little heartier than Buffalo Springfield’s original, with Nels Cline’s beefed up guitars and some heavy, soupy layers of synth. It’s cut in the middle with a spirited take on “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” before Tweedy returns with:

Eighteen years of American dream

He saw that his brother had sworn on the wall

He hung up his eyelids and ran down the hall

His mother had told him a trip was a fall

And don’t mention babies at all

Did you see him?

Did you see him?

The first encore closes out with a raging 12-minute “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and an upbeat “Hummingbird,” both from 2004’s A Ghost Is Born. After an absolutely rousing round of applause, Wilco returned to the stage for a second encore of older classics. “Heavy Metal Drummer” burns right into the one-two punch of “Red-Eyed And Blue” and “I Got You (At The End Of The Century)” from their landmark double LP, Being There

Wilco is a band aware of their place in the history of American rock and roll, especially when it comes to live music, and they are eternally selfless and courteous to their fans. Going to Wilco show is like hanging out with old friends, and their February 12th, 2010 performance at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, BC is the ultimate hang.

Setlist:

​​Wilco (The Song) 

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Bull Black Nova 

You Are My Face 

One Wing 

A Shot in the Arm

At Least That’s What You Said

Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again)

Jesus, Etc.

Misunderstood

Handshake Drugs

Deeper Down

Impossible Germany

California Stars

Sonny Feeling

Hate It Here

Walken

I’m the Man Who Loves You

Encore:

Broken Arrow (Buffalo Springfield cover)

Spiders (Kidsmoke)

Hummingbird

Encore 2:

Heavy Metal Drummer

Red-Eyed and Blue

I Got You (At the End of the Century)

Hoodoo Voodoo (Billy Bragg & Wilco cover)

I’m a Wheel

You can see Wilco live in concert this April in Chicago and New York, and headlining the Solid Sound Festival in May before they head to Europe in June! 

The Latest Wilco Front of House Release Focuses on Jeff Tweedy

Wilco Front of House Series 20

Jeff Tweedy

LISTEN NOW: Drive-In at SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview, IL- June 4, 2021

When we look at the pandemic and how it has affected the music industry, perhaps the most defining frame is of response. The resilient ways that artists, crew, and the industry at large took a look at the circumstances and responded. In the initial wave of lockdown, living room livestreams and concert rebroadcasts were among the most popular ways that artists connected with fans and kept live music out there. Jeff Tweedy turned to songwriting. The Wilco front-man was in a unique position to write and record entirely from “home.” 

Home in this case was both Tweedy’s physical home and The Loft, Wilco’s studio in Chicago. With the help of his sons, Spencer and Sam, Tweedy responded to lockdown with a truly home-grown record. The album, titled Love Is The King, feels intimately connected to the pandemic. It’s a meditation on human connection: good days, bad days, relationships, mortality, and everything else that crossed our minds these last two years. Love Is The King takes center stage in the latest release of Wilco’s ‘Front of House’ archival concert series. 

A first for the series, this concert did not come from a theatre, club, or festival but instead, a drive-in pop-up venue at Bridgeview, Illinois’ SeatGeek Stadium parking lot. It was only fitting that the first release of these songs in their live form is connected to the way artists responded to the pandemic. The bygone drive-in was the miracle that safely got artists out of the living room, back on the road, and into parking lots, farms, and speedways around the country. 

The concert, available today on nugs.net, features almost every song from Love Is The King, including hits “Guess Again,” “Gwendolyn,” and the title track. The concert also features Tweedy favorites including “Low Key” and “Summer Noon.” The extended encore begins with “Even I Can See,” a tender testament of marital adoration from Love Is The King. The encore then shifts into covers of material from The Sir Douglas Quintet, Diane Izzo, The Beatles, and Doug Sahm. 

The highlight of the encore comes as Tweedy performs Mavis Staples’ “You Are Not Alone,” a song he produced with Staples on her 2010 album of the same name. Though the song is more than a decade old, it evokes the universal feelings of loneliness felt throughout the pandemic. The lyrics are a simple acknowledgment that we are together, even in isolation. “You Are Not Alone” offers a simple encouragement: 

You are not alone

I’m with you

I’m lonely too

“You Are Not Alone” and Love Is The King are perfect encapsulations of our collective experience over the last two years. Though the pandemic may not be over, the fact that we can listen to Jeff Tweedy sing these songs on a stage in front of an audience speaks to how far we’ve come. We’ve made it to the other side with a greater realization of the things that connect all of us. 

You can see Jeff Tweedy live in concert this December in Chicago and Los Angeles: 

12/22/2021 Chicago, IL – Metro

12/23/2021 Chicago, IL – Metro

12/28/2021 Los Angeles, CA – Largo

12/29/2021 Los Angeles, CA – Largo

12/30/2021 Los Angeles, CA – Largo

Wilco Shares New Front of House Archival Release

After crossing, un-crossing, and re-crossing the Canadian border a few days earlier, Wilco undertook a week-long stay on the Great White North side of things in early July 2006.  This jaunt featured the introduction of two additional songs from the forthcoming “Sky Blue Sky” album (a third song, “Walken,” had already been in the repertoire for over a year), as well as a(nother) new arrangement of Spiders (Kidsmoke).  

This particular show from The Playhouse features an excellent recording of the band in typical white-hot mid-tour form.  Beginning with what is surely one of their most evocative opening songs, “Hell Is Chrome” forces those who just want to let their rocks roll to sit/stand at rapt attention.  Four songs in, we get a first glimpse at “Sky Blue Sky” in the form of “What Light”, featuring some intro and first verse guitar flourishes from Nels Cline that would later be excised from the live arrangement.  The biggest highlight comes a few songs later: the first (and one of the few) live performances of the unreleased (until now!) “Let’s Fight”.   This rarity was first attempted during the “A Ghost Is Born” sessions, and then re-attempted, but never completed, during the recording of “Sky Blue Sky”.  This is followed by the aforementioned “Spiders”, with its new ending whereby the band fades down to the sole sound of Glenn’s bass drum, only to then abruptly silence that and leave the audience to (hopefully) keep time via handclaps.  Future versions of this arrangement gave the audience sufficient time and rope to figuratively hang themselves (it’s hard to clap in time at a rock show), but this one keeps things short and crisp before the final instrumental chorus comes crashing through.

Other standouts include a very rocking “A Shot in The Arm” and a beautiful extended (albeit slightly undermixed) solo from Mr. Cline on “Ashes of American Flags”.  

– Marc Prizer

New Exclusive Live Archives From Wilco

Wilco is back with the latest entry in their nugs.net exclusive “Front of House” series. This release features both nights of Wilco’s 2010 “An Evening With” tour stop in Montclair, New Jersey. Check out Marc Prizer’s notes on the shows below. Click here to listen to start listening.

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“Three-hour shows! Acoustic sets! Deep cuts! On-stage restaurant gift certificate giveaways! All of these factors made the Spring 2010 “An Evening With” tour one of the most revered among long-time fans. Initially starting with a hefty 33-35 song length, by the time the tour rolled into the central New Jersey town of Montclair, the show had expanded to occasionally hit 38 songs played over 3-plus hours onstage. The sets were so long that, in order to catch their collective breath, the band really did take a few moments mid-show to give away local restaurant gift certificates to a few lucky fans.

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But quantity ain’t nothin’ without quality, and these shows have a high quantity of quality (see what we did there?). Perhaps the coolest aspect of these shows is how the performance morphs, via the noise-coda of “Poor Places”, from it’s initial hi-wattage electricity to an intimate mid-show acoustic set…and then back “up” again after “Airline To Heaven’s” crescendo. In addition to its counterbalance of timbre and dynamics, the acoustic set also provided a platform for the performance of rarely-played deep cuts; these Montclair shows include “Someday Some Morning Sometime”, “When You Wake Up Feeling Old”, and the deepest of deep tracks, “More Like The Moon” (featuring a beautiful extended Jeff Tweedy acoustic guitar solo). These shows also include powerful readings of the Big Star songs “In The Street” and “Thank You Friends” as a tribute to the then-recent passing of Wilco hero Alex Chilton.

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All in all, the two shows in Montclair showcase a whopping 57 different songs, presenting a near-complete representation of what went down during that “An Evening With” tour.” – Marc Prizer