Jeff Tweedy @ Boulder Theater, January 8
For Jeff Tweedy, the success of a solo performance depends on his audience. He wants to create a moment: during quiet songs he wants silence and during upbeat songs, he’s happy if you sing along. Meanwhile, on stage alongside him are six acoustic guitars and five speakers pointing directly at him. You may think one of two things: 1.) Jeff Tweedy is an asshole, or 2.) Jeff Tweedy loves music, knows music, and cares so much about how he sounds that he wants every note, ever moment, to be perfect. These would be the logical guesses, and it’s nearly impossible to tell which of them, if either, is the right answer.
In honor of the Boulder Theater’s 75th Anniversary, Tweedy played to two sold-out crowds, mostly seated, of college students and young professionals, many in flannel shirts and jeans but a few in dreadlocks and flowing skirts. On the second of these nights some of the most memorable moments came between songs as he joked sarcastically, criticizing the audience from the previous night – “they were horrible people.” For much of the night, at his request, each song was followed by a chorus of boo’s from his adoring fans, who loved him perhaps more, even after he publicly denied them autographs, “Are you the one who wanted me to sign the book for you last night? I won’t sign it for you tonight, either.”
READ ON for more on Jeff Tweedy’s recent Boulder show…
The reason he is adored, despite his seemingly overarching requests for silence during a show, is because of the music he creates. Jeff Tweedy’s countenance alone demands attention – as he quietly strums his guitar and sings lyrics often of missing a lover or of needing nothing else, the room stays silent. Most people want to hear every note he plucks and every word he sings. Because of the unconditional love showered on him from everywhere around, he gets away with being an asshole.
As for the songs he played, they were what you’d expect, and what you’d be happy to hear – Sunken Treasure, I’ll Fight, Forget the Flowers, and Either Way to name a few – but you were never quite sure if he was losing himself in it or if he was just playing through the motions. Sometimes it felt like both, until the third song of the encore as he covered Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees, following a 12-string acoustic version of Heavy Metal Drummer, and preceding Dreamer in my Dreams, for which he came front stage and sang to the small, quiet theater without amplification or microphone before quietly heading off stage, head down and hand held up. From this we know, or can at least tell ourselves, the asshole is an act.