'ACL' Live Shots
WilcoThe Mercury, Friday, Sept. 27, 10:30pm
Jeff Tweedy rarely smiles. He's a mopey-faced guy, hunched over ever so slightly. Friday night, the Wilco honcho was wearing that same starchy red button-up you might have seen him sporting on certain magazine covers. "This song is called 'Kamera,' and I need a bucket," groans Tweedy. He makes it through the song, then exits stage right to vomit. Apparently he does this often due to his severe migraines, as captured vividly in a money shot from the new Wilco documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. Happily, he recovered. The crowd never had to. The 500 or so fans who were lucky or industrious enough to get into this ACL Music Fest warm-up gig were genuinely thrilled. Maybe the bigwigs and scenesters were clustered at the back, because they certainly weren't up close when the band launched into "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," which was wonderfully stripped down and organic for such a grandiose, creatively inverted song. The entire set felt so intimate that it seemed any bigger venue would've been inappropriate, especially given Tweedy's not-quite-no-depression delivery. The laptop Americana of "Ashes of American Flags" was a highlight, drummer Glenn Kotche sculpting a piece of rhythmic mayhem out of the album version's pure chaos. A sizzling romp through the CCR-flavored "I'm the Man Who Loves You" set the stage for a pair of rowdy encores that featured an Uncle Tupelo song, Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" with the guitar tech on vox, and Tweedy's Woody Guthrie interpretation "California Stars," which had the crowd singing along, the band bouncing around, and even a little smile erupting from the cracks of Tweedy's mouth.