Considering this arrangement that Jeff Tweedy put together that includes his son on drums is relatively new news, not many people knew what was in store for tonight at the Ottawa Bluesfest. The Chicago frontman and primary songwriter for Wilco made a rare stop in Ottawa to play the Blacksheep stage. This is THE most intimate outdoor stage of the Ottawa bluesfest.
Revisiting the sound bleeding challenge, Tweedy was scheduled on Blacksheep Stage at the opposite side of the museum from Macbook-led band, Zedd. A few minutes before Tweedy's setup was ready, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" was crawling over the museum so what was going to happen when Zedd turns his Macbook volume up during one of Tweedy's solo acoustic moments?
This was another example of excellent planning. The museum is a great barrier to low end, because physics. It's made of concrete after all. Z barely made a dent in Tweedy's show, but Tweedy couldn't help but comment on the beats, or even try to play along. Aside from the light-hearted poking, it wasn't distracting at all.
Tweedy, as graceful that he is, commented on Ottawa, declared his love for the Canadians in attendance and then described catching Journey on the way in by trying to sing what he'd heard. He continued to interact responding to requests during his solo acoustic segment and called out a heckler who was actually trying to be complementary about the US. The likely loaded dude was no match for Tweedy's onstage wit when the guy declared how great it is that the US now has free healthcare for all now. Tweedy corrected him "It's not FREE healthcare... you don't know what you're talking about.". Crowd laughs. Dude now has a story to tell his friends.
The band that Tweedy has put together were supporting his upcoming album, Sue-key-ray. The tunes and sound was very reminiscent of the Wilco feel. This could be described as Wilco lite. These songs would fit well in any Wilco show and it will be interesting to hear how they extend them.
The solo segment covered a few of Wilco's songs to unanimous joy and it ignited more audience interaction with some of the classic Wilco sing-alongs. Jesus etc., I am Trying to Break your Heart, I'm the Man Who Loves You were included in the 9 or 10 song mini-set.
During this though, a pair of really bright white spotlights were blasting the audience. It left spots on retinas, even just looking at Tweedy. It was odd how they came on at this point and how they only appeared when cellphone screens lit up. They went off after the smartphone holders realized they couldn't capture anything in this light. It screws with the image. But...magically as phone screens popped back up, the lights re-ignited. Eventually they were just left on. This is a solid theory because camera phone usage limitation was being enforced by Tweedy, following Wilco's policies.
Another photo/video discouraging conspiracy theory possibly employed by Wilcoworld was a video striped test pattern displayed behind the entire band. Those bands of cyan, magenta, red, green, blue, yellow tends to mess with a cellphones ability to adjust nicely so focused listening and engagement becomes the priority.
The band returned to the stage to blow past the 10:45 posted finish time for a couple of more songs. Tweedy wondered if he should twist the title lyric of California Stars to be more canadian. The crowd agrees. Since it was the US independence day, why the hell not eh? He turned it into Can-a-dee-ah Stars, the audience joins in and he eventually reverts it back after not being able to keep a straight face while declaring he's temporarily forgotten the words after screwing with the lyrics.
They finished at 11, and many people couldn't let go of a possible extra song or two even though the crew was already tearing down the gear. While a setlist isn't yet handy on the innernetz, there's a comparable setlist right here from a previous show.