Ode to Joy Tour
Ode to Joy Tour
$125.00 – VIP – Standing Room Only
$55.00 – GA – Standing Room Only
*plus applicable service fees
All doors & show times subject to change.
For more information, visit OxbowRiverStage.com
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Throughout the past two-plus decades Wilco has won multiple Grammy Awards, released 11 studio albums, as well as a trio of albums with Billy Bragg penning music to lyrics by Woody Guthrie. They have founded their own record label (dBpm Records) and festival (Solid Sound). This year saw them curating Sky Blue Sky, a destination concert experience in Mexico, for the first time. The Chicago sextet continues to be regarded as a live powerhouse, as described by NPR “To see Wilco on stage is to hear the best of the best.” The band’s newest album, Ode To Joy, was released fall 2019.
Wilco return with Ode to Joy, out October 4th via dBpm Records. Ode to Joy comes three-plus years after the release of the “world-weary, wheezy – and wonderfully warm” (The Guardian) Schmilco, and encourages the act of finding joy in a dark political climate. The album presents a unique rhythm track and a minimalist instrumentation, with lyrics at once observant, hopeful, morbid, tolerant, and abstract. “Love is Everywhere (Beware),” the album’s extrospective lead single, is an upbeat, guitar-driven track that explores the dual joy and threat of a community focused on love. Jeff Tweedy discusses it below.
“There MUST be more love than hate. Right?! I’m not always positive we can be so sure. In any case, I’m starting to feel like being confident in that equation isn’t always the best motivation for me to be my best self – it can kind of let me off the hook a little bit when I think I should be striving to contribute more love outside of my comfortable sphere of family and friends. So. . . I guess the song is sort of a warning to myself that YES, Love IS EVERYWHERE, but also BEWARE! I can’t let that feeling absolve me of my duty to create more.”
Following his two solo albums, WARM and WARMER, and memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back), Tweedy gathered Wilco to The Loft in Chicago. While all six members of the band can be heard on every song, Tweedy and Glenn Kotche were the launching pad from which most of the songs on Ode to Joy materialized – Kotche’s percussion propels the music forward while Tweedy’s measured words flesh out the cleared paths. As a result, the album is comprised of “really big, big folk songs, these monolithic, brutal structures that these delicate feelings are hung on,” as described by Tweedy. Across the entire album, drums pound and plod with a steady one–two pulse, meant to mimic the movement of marching—a powerful act utilized on both sides of the authoritarian wall. There’s also a sense of comfort that comes with the rhythmic marching sound.
Whether our joy is measured by sparks felt when clutching old sweaters to our chests, by the number of tiny digital hearts earned from a shared photograph, by a guitar solo or a drumbeat or a piece of cotton on a stick in your ear, or by something even greater, Wilco wants to sincerely remind us to wear that feeling loud and proud. This is Ode to Joy: pick it up, hold it tight.
Faye Webster loves the feeling of a first take: writing a song, then heading to the studio with her band to track it live the very next day. When you listen to the 23-year-old Atlanta songwriter’s poised and plainspoken albums, you can hear why: she channels emotions that are so aching, they seem to be coming into existence at that very moment. Webster captures the spark before it has a chance to fade; she inks lyrics before they have a chance to seem fleeting. Her signature sound pairs close, whisper-quiet, home-recorded vocals with the unmistakable sound of musicians together in a room.
I Know I’m Funny haha is Webster’s most realized manifestation yet of this emotional and musical alchemy. Continuing to bloom from her 2019 breakthrough and Secretly Canadian debut Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster’s sound draws as much from the lap-steel singer-songwriter pop of the 1970s and teardrop country tunes as it does from the audacious personalities of her city’s rap and R&B community, where she first found a home on Awful Records.
In the two years since Atlanta Millionaire Club, Webster’s profile has steadily risen—as she played festivals like Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo and found her way onto none other than Barack Obama’s 2020 year-end list—and she also fell in love. “This record is coming from a less lonely place,” Webster says of I Know I’m Funny haha, which finds her sound fuller, brighter, and more confident. “When I wrote AMC, I was living by myself and on some don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-own-time type shit. But now I’m living with my partner; I’m happy most of the time. I’m in such a different place. These songs aren’t necessarily happier, but it’s a different vibe.”
The album began for Webster with the stirring ballad “In a Good Way,” as in “You make me want to cry in a good way”—an instant-classic Faye Webster one-liner. It’s beguilingly simple (as is her fantastic self-directed video), the kind of melody and arrangement that seem to have existed forever. “I didn’t know that I was capable of being happy right now,” Webster sings, and she says her own writing surprised her, too. “When I wrote that song, I was like Damn, I didn’t know I could write these kinds of songs! I feel like it set the mood for the rest of the album.” A sense of relief charges the neo-psychedelic pop of “Cheers,” where Webster experiments with an overdriven guitar tone. She also collaborated, on “Overslept,” with the Japanese artist Mei Ehara, who she calls the biggest influence on her new music.
“A Dream About a Baseball Player” is Webster’s oldest song on the record, a snapshot of her one-time teenage crush on Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.—who she actually met when she was invited to sing at a Braves game in 2019. The song is no doubt a testament to I Know I’m Funny haha’s brilliantly colloquial title. But more than humor, Webster’s music is full of personality. (This also shines through her work as an accomplished photographer of portraits and still lifes.) Many of her songs contain bits of girl-group-esque talk-singing, which color her atypical story-songs. The title track, for example, reflects on a dinner with her partner and his sisters, one of whom told her she’s funny.
“One of my favorite things about songwriting is taking thoughts that people don’t really think are worthy, or might overlook, and highlighting them,” Webster says. (She also comes alive when describing hobbies like chess and yo-yoing.) “I like saying things that everybody thinks, but nobody’s saying. Sometimes you can’t really sing them, or make them pretty. So I’ll just say it, just talk. I’ve become more purposeful with it.”
Webster started recording I Know I’m Funny haha before the coronavirus pandemic, but with the 2020 shutdowns, she had to switch up her typically spontaneous song-by-song studio approach for most of the album. She tried recording with her band for a COVID-safe two-week studio stretch, but ultimately left, recording vocals at home on Garageband: “I did the rest of the vocals in my bedroom, which is what I’ve done and what I’m used to, and what I prefer,” she says of her intimate singing style. The entirety of the album’s stunning, acoustic closer “Half of Me” was tracked by Webster alone at home. And the uncertainty of life in 2020 also seeped into some of her lyrics, as on the gorgeous “Better Distractions” (which landed on Obama’s playlist), a song about missing a loved one and wondering “What’s next?”
Accepting the challenges, Webster says she’s in a growth mindset, pushing herself to learn more, to be more vulnerable. “Growth is really important to me,” she says. “I hope people will relate to my songs, and not just be like ‘this is a good record’ but ‘this makes me feel something. This is making me think differently, this is making me question things.’ I told myself a few years ago that I was going to be more honest in my songwriting, that honesty is the best route to take with music. If I have a voice and people are listening to me, I’m not going to waste it.”