Tweedy's Sunken Treasure

by Stephen Tringali

Where could you hear Jeff Tweedy, lead singer/songwriter of the alternative rock band Wilco, talk about religious experiences within the context of music, the bloodbath that would surely occur if he were elected president, and how certain substances caused him to crap his pants the last time he played this particular venue?

At a Christian college campus, of course.

Messiah College, located in Grantham Pennsylvania, hosted Tweedy on his solo tour of the east coast last November. The Wilco frontman, whose usual concert demeanor could be classified as taciturn, appeared to find the intimate circumstances more conducive for candor.

He joked with the audience, acknowledged a few requests, and played a variety of songs, including some from his previous band, alternative-country legend Uncle Tupelo, and from his side projects, the experimental trio Loose Fur and the alternative-country super group Golden Smog.

Why does this year-old concert matter now? Because in exactly one week, the concert film Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest will be released. And if the concert I went to last year is any indicator of this film’s quality, it should cause considerable excitement among Wilco fans.

According to Wilco’s website, director Christoph Green wanted the viewer to feel as though he or she were experiencing “...a chaptered flow down the west coast, showing the isolated bleakness you encounter when you travel quickly from one place to another, and then contrasting that with the experience at the shows—the gathering of people and the sense of community that is created night after night.”

Also directing was Fugazi’s Brendan Canty. These two filmmakers are, perhaps, best know for their Burn to Shine series, which documents the music scene of a particular city by filming local bands in a condemned house. Each feature concludes with footage of the burning house. The newest entry showcases Portland, Oregon with performances from The Shins, Sleater-Kinney, and The Decemberists.

The release of this DVD appears to be the frontman’s way of redeeming himself for an earlier blunder. Last year, Wilco promised to release a concert film to coincide with their first live album, the double-disc entitled Kicking Television: Live in Chicago. The concert album was received enthusiastically, but the corresponding film never came. Tweedy later said that he was disappointed with the footage and that it didn’t contain enough crowd shots. The footage was shelved for later consideration.

I supposed we can forgive Tweedy, especially since he’s making each song on the film available for download when fans place the DVD in their computers.

(Photo by Stephen Tringali.)

(To see Tweedy sing "Sunken Treasure" please check below.)

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Anonymous said...

hey! you can stream the whole DVD on october 23rd/24th at the wilco website:


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