November 01, 2006

Candy Left Over From Halloween

Yes, it's high time for yet another gushing Wilco-related post. I picked up my copy of Jeff Tweedy's Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest a few weeks back, and I think I've watched it enough to provide an honest, if somewhat biased, impression of the film. The first thing astute Tweedy fan will notice is the great color footage, and professional camerawork. Previously, the best film taken of Tweedy solo shows was the grainy, slightly shaky, black and white footage captured by Sam Jones for the I Am Trying to Break Your Heart documentary. While stylistically appealing, there's something about his footage which always made it seem a little surreal, unlike the extremely accurate depiction that Christoph Green and Brendan Canty (purveyors of the exquisite Burn to Shine series) provide. Nit-pickers will argue that the lighting is pretty dismal, and they may have a point. But the thing that stands out in my memory about the Tweedy solo show that I attended was the fact that there was no smoke and mirrors, just a guy with a guitar lit by a single light. The simplicity is the appeal, and I doubt anyone would complain if we had footage like this from some of Bob Dylan's early shows.

Ultimately, the music is the main draw of this DVD (all cuts from the film, plus a few extras, are available as free MP3 downloads for those who purchase the DVD), and the selection does not disappoint. Most of the solo show mainstays are covered, although obviously skewing mainly towards the Wilco side of Tweedy's career. The blemishes are all present, an aspect of Tweedy's show which I feared would be conveniently omitted. Songs are started in the wrong key then restarted, punctuated by rowdy fans, etc. The sound quality is notably higher than a bootleg, mixing a soundboard patch with some mics placed around the room to capture the unique acoustics of each venue. Many of Tweedy's off the cuff remarks/rants to the audience are also left intact, including his "hissy fit" in Portland about people being silent and actually listening to the show the paid to come to. The DVD is by no means a one man show, taking a few chances to showcase bandmates Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline, who opened up dates of the tour and then joined him on stage at the end of each evening. The rendition of "War On War" with Nels on dobro and Glenn on drums gives you an idea of just how talented these guys are outside the realm of Wilco, and also how much fun they have just being on stage together. Overall, if you're interested in Tweedy's solo work, this film is well worth the price especially when you factor in the free MP3 downloads.

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