Jeff Tweedy — 3/30/11, Iowa City, IA (Englert Theatre)
It being well past 3 a.m., and my traveling companion and I having just spent the past three hours-plus motoring home, this post might not be quite on a par with the ones for the previous two shows. Yet fatigue notwithstanding, it seems like a good idea to at least try to get down some thoughts about what will probably be forever known as “The Mayor’s Daughter” show.
Things started off promisingly when Jeff took the stage and launched into the relative rarity “In A Future Age.” Aside from some mysterious laughter right in the middle of the next song, “Via Chicago,” the crowd stayed mostly silent through the next few songs. There was some minor back-and-forth when Jeff asked about the Via laughter and someone said, “Chicago’s funny in Iowa.” And Jeff came back with, “Not half as funny as Iowa is in Chicago.” But the first sign of trouble came after Jeff said, “I love Iowa. It’s not that different from where I grew up.” That’s when a young woman in the fourth row, in a remarkably loud voice, asked Jeff where he had grown up. Jeff, always in deflect mode, jokingly told her to “Wikipedia me; I’ll wait.”
After a funny version of “Wilco (The Song),” in which Jeff started to tell a story before actually finishing the song, as well as several more numbers, Jeff began to strum the chords to one of the new songs he has been playing on this tour, “Born Alone.” Unfortunately he would find himself strumming those chords for the next few minutes. After hearing some more beer bottles clinking as people accidentally knocked them over —something that had been happening throughout the show—Jeff jokingly asked “Is Glenn here?” A reference to Wilco drummer/percussionist Glenn Kotche, of course, and one that the vast majority of the audience seemed to get. Except for the girl in the fourth row, who was clearly under the influence of something (or things), and started to blurt out a series of very loud and somewhat nonsensical comments.
I didn’t write down everything she said, and it’s difficult to fully capture the cringeworthiness of the moment, but her ramblings included things like:
*”Glenn is a fucking pussy” for not raising his hand and identifying himself when Jeff asked if he was here (she clearly had no idea who Glenn was, and that he was indeed not there.)
*telling Jeff she would give him “a million dollars if I can come on stage.”
*”My dad’s the mayor of Cedar Rapids.”
Somewhat inexplicably, despite a few pleas from people seated near her, the security at the Englert allowed her to remain in her seat. Finally, after what seemed like a very long time, all Jeff could say was something like, “How awkward can a show be?” and eventually, thankfully, started the song.
Shortly thereafter, Jeff announced that he “would like to dedicate this song to the mayor’s daughter,” and played his great cover of The Handsome Family’s “So Much Wine.” Though it’s actually a pretty bleak song, the audience got a good laugh at some of the images of drunkenness the song conjures, and it was an inspired song choice. Midway through the next song, “Jesus, etc.,” the “mayor’s daughter” had finally had enough and got up and left, prompting a round of applause.
After the song, Jeff asked if she had left and if he had been mean. When people insisted he hadn’t, he said, “I feel sorry for her. I’ve had problems with substances in my life.” (pause) “Not like that.”
The show concluded in fairly standard fashion, though “Airline To Heaven” was played for the first time on this solo run, and was a treat to hear. It’s tempting to wonder what might have been if the “mayor’s daughter” hadn’t derailed the show and some other things (e.g. the constant bottle clinking) hadn’t helped create a strange mood. A person who saw Jeff’s setlist said that “Summer Teeth” was on it, and “The Lonely 1” among the potential audibles or bonus songs. So strictly speaking, it could be seen as a somewhat disappointing finale to a fun series of shows. But if nothing else, it won’t soon be forgotten.
Here was the complete setlist, as played, for the Iowa City show (which was apparently part of the Mission Creek Festival, though the “festival” seemed to consist mostly of unrelated shows by bands who were making regular tour stops in town):
In A Future Age
Remember The Mountain Bed
Please Be Patient With Me
Wilco (The Song)
Not For The Season
new song-Born Alone
So Much Wine [The Handsome Family]
I’m The Man Who Loves You
Airline To Heaven
The Late Greats
A Shot in the Arm
Walken (performed at edge of stage w/o PA system)
Acuff-Rose (performed at edge of stage w/o PA system)
*Opening act: Snowblink