Wilco

MOKB & Live Nation Present

Wilco

Kacy and Clayton

Tue, June 13, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at WRSP

$22.00 - $103.00

This event is all ages

Wilco
Wilco
Wilco? Schmilco.

“You don’t gain anything, being precious about making records,” says Jeff Tweedy. Then he laughs. “I think this is a pretty irritated record. I sort of gave myself permission to complain.”

Schmilco, Wilco’s tenth studio album and the fifth by the current sextet lineup, began to percolate at around the same time as its predecessor, 2015’s Star Wars. As the songs Wilco developed during that period progressed from musical snippets to fuller structures, and then to lyrical composition, the band began blocking the music into two general album ideas—the first louder and harder, the second more modest in volume and expression.

“I liked the idea of releasing Star Wars the way we did,” says Tweedy, “with very little advance notice. The music on that album felt irreverent in a very electric-rock way, but the other music felt irreverent in a quieter, less layered way. Some of the songs could have been made to work on either album, really, but the alternative to making two records would have been to spend another year really honing everything, all of it, getting it all right for that kind of release. It just gradually became clear that Star Wars was going to be the easier project to finish first. Those songs were a lot farther along than the ones on Schmilco.”

Where Star Wars finally coalesced into a boisterous, glam-rocking showcase of Wilco’s variable styles, Schmilco is something of its quieter mirror counterpart—more intimate and candid, executed in modest arrangements and instrumentation.

“Maybe we got lucky,” says Tweedy of Schmilco’s sonic and expressive frankness, a unified quality of the record that makes Schmilco rather a distinctive entry in Wilco’s late catalog. “I think Sky Blue Sky and Wilco (The Album) are similar to Star Wars in that they all work as collections of different kinds of songs. But with Schmilco I was wanting to say things much more directly. There turned out to be a lot less in the way of layering and overdubs. That gave a lot of space over to each instrument on each song. There isn’t much room to hide in these arrangements.”

Indeed there’s no record much like Schmilco in Wilco’s history, though it shares DNA even with the band’s earliest work. “Normal American Kids” opens the record with Nels Cline’s hushed, wobbly electric runs beneath Tweedy’s fuller, deeper vocals and mid-range acoustic strumming. It’s a jittery interplay that highlights the tension in the song’s focus on youthful outsiders, the impossibility of fitting cleanly into place (“Oh, all of my spirit / ached like a cut / I knew what I needed / would never be enough”). Minus Cline’s guitar fills, musically and melodically it’s a song that would have sounded at home alongside the warm acoustics on Being There, Wilco’s 1996 sophomore release. But the song’s attunement to tension here sets a tone that sustains throughout virtually the entirety of Schmilco.

You hear a similar skittery vibe on “If I Ever Was A Child,” the advance release from the record, in Glenn Kotche’s light skiffle percussion, in Jeff Tweedy’s high, airy vocal, and especially in the lyrics, which focus on the conditional and the comparative: “Well I jumped to jolt my clumsy blood / while my white, green eyes / cry like a window pane / can my cold heart change / even out of spite?” You hear it in the chugging, gradual build-up of full band instrumentation of “Cry All Day”—a song that begins in soft dynamics, and slowly comes to sound as though the horses are straining at the reins. You hear it in the fractured, slightly more oblique lyricism of “Common Sense,” “Nope,” and “Locator,” and even in the loping major-seventh goof of “Someone To Lose,” which reminds you again how adept Wilco can be at dressing sinister thoughts in pretty clothes (“Now where you gonna go like a cobra coiled? / Sweating in a sweater, you’ve got too much style / But you’re never alone, someday they’re gonna get you…”).

“At some point when you start shaping a record, you begin looking for ways to make it tell a story that makes sense to you. Whether it makes sense to a listener is another thing.” And yet the more you play it, the more intimate a record Schmilco sounds, in the way that albums that offer open expressions of uncertainty and frustration can, strangely enough. The directness of the music, the openness of the lyrics, make it a record that encourages a certain kind of listener to lean in to it, to meet it rough edges straight-on. If it’s an album that’s frequently raw in its content and rhythms… well, so can the human heart be.

“I think there’s such a thing as a ‘positive negativity,’” says Tweedy. “I can be a pretty irritable person. But I think there’s a value in taking the stuff that’s really frustrating you, really pissing you off, and making something beautiful, some kind of art out of that.” In Jeff Tweedy’s story of it, Schmilco is an “irritable” record. Whether it sounds that way to your ears is a different story—your story, each listener’s story. Still, for all its uniqueness in the context of the band’s catalog, like all of Wilco’s records, Schmilco is not a new direction so much as a snapshot of a time and space in which Tweedy and company were working at the moment.

“There are people who take Wilco’s records way more seriously than we do,” says Tweedy. “I think it’s good that we don’t. A lot of people think the whole point of being in a band is to make records, but it really isn’t. The point is to make music.”

After all, as some irritable guy or another once said, you don’t gain anything by being precious. Precious, schmecious. Records, schmecords.

Wilco: Schmilco.

SCHMILCO is performed by Wilco: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Nels Cline, Pat Sansone. Additional drums by Spencer Tweedy.
Kacy and Clayton
Kacy and Clayton
The music of Kacy and Clayton exists outside of time, and burgeons with beautiful contradictions. It’s psychedelic and traditional, contemporary and vintage, melancholic and joyous. All at once, it showcases a slightly psych-folk sound of Linda Perhacs, Fleet Foxes, and First Aid Kit; rare country blues records and English folk tunes; and 1920s disaster songs and murder ballads. Their songs often are sugar-coated pills, tales of murderous jealousy, dilapidated graveyards, and infanticide, all delivered with Kacy Anderson’s sweet, lithe voice, and Clayton Linthicum’s hypnotic fingerpicking.

Their latest album Strange Country, strays away from straightforward folk, delivering a sound that pairs Laurel Canyon vibes with Dustbowl-era drama. And for the duo, the subject matter is literally close to home. They’re second cousins who have grown up in the Wood Mountain Uplands, an isolated region of southern Saskatchewan. It is ranch country, very remote, with a landscape punctuated with hills, 12 miles from the Montana border. Neighbors were scarce, and their school bus ride was a long drive into town. “Where we come from it’s kind of a step behind society,” Kacy, 19, says, “We had a lot of time to take in our surroundings. Characters are still very strong.”

They learned music by picking up rare vinyl at record stores -- the closest, the 21 year old Clayton says, was five hours away -- and Kacy troweled through Wikipedia to discover long-forgotten bands and musicians. But even internet was unreliable in their area. The remoteness of their town required many hours in the car, so the long trips became educational moments. “I found out about Doc Watson and The Carter Family from a tape that my grandpa had in his car,” Clayton says, “and I found out about Hank Snow and Bob Wills from a neighbor who came up on 1940s and 50s country music.”

Clayton would experiment with instruments scattered in his great-uncle Carl’s basement, occasionally performing with Kacy and her sisters(Carl’s grandchildren). There wasn’t much of a conventional music scene where they lived. However, Kacy & Clayton spent most of their Sunday evenings at the seniors home performing with and for local geriatrics. To rehearse, the two cousins living six miles apart often illegally drove to each other’s houses before they had driver’s licenses.

“We both started playing music because we were nerds about it,” Kacy jokes. “The history of music and reading biographies and things like that; learning about artists and traditions and styles. That is why we really like folk music.” Clayton continues: “With songwriting, it is more like travelling to a time. We are both obsessed with the old world. When we write songs we almost subconsciously think about an older world.”

Kacy says they use music as a way to understand their own ancestors, resuscitating folktales through their songs, stories recounted from mouths of family and community members. Their music is a way to bring those vanishing times back to life again. “Lots of our songs are inspired by old stories from our family,” she says, “The common ancestors Clayton and I share were ranchers that moved up from South Dakota and settled in the Saskatchewan hills we both live in now. Loneliness and seclusion, sickness and death; the stories are often tragic, yet all recounted with fondness.”

Like their previous albums pay homage to music of yore, Strange Country was conceived under a similar influence. Their arrangements are enhanced with fiddle, melodeon, autoharp and occasionally a rhythm section. All of their lyrics stem from the plain, regional language of folk songs, often telling the gossip of their tiny town. The rollicking “Brunswick Stew” was inspired by scandalous pregnancies that have happened in their community. Underneath the veneer of their idyllic town, gossip and hearsay reign, as a girl denies her pregnancy for months, then suddenly gives birth. Kacy wrote the dark, haunting “Dyin’ Bed Maker” on the fiddle, telling the story of a woman who kills another woman for having an affair with her man. “I am not a murderous person,” she laughs, “I do love murder ballads though. Most murder ballads have a crazy man and an innocent girl and she is in love with him and he takes her to the mountains and kills her. It is always a pitiful story about a weak woman. I like the stories where the woman is the murderer. It’s saying ‘We are not weak we are gonna fucking murder you.’”

Their music elevates everyday moments, and gives voice to the voiceless, often portraying the hard lives of tough women and men in past and present frontier towns. “I love ordinary things,” Kacy says. “I was obsessed with housewives. Who cares about housewives anymore? No one. Theirs is a story that few have told. No one sees them or cares about them or speaks of them but for so long the mother has been in the house slaving away and living without fulfillment.”

Their music has resonated far beyond Saskatchewan, earning them fans culled from their long tours across North America and the U.K. Clayton says it was a surprise to see that people in cities outside their small town connected with the music they loved. “You get the young record collecting nerds like us that come out,” he says, “and the more obsessive older crowds that were like those younger people 45 years ago.”

Clayton says their stripped-down sound is an iconoclastic thing in the age of overproduced albums. There’s something defiant about just a guitar and vocals, breaking away from the present to create a world from the past. As Clayton surmises: “The most rebellious thing you can do is rebel against the rebellion.”
Venue Information:
Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at WRSP
801 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN, 46204
http://inwhiteriver.wrsp.in.gov/ATTRACTIONS/Attraction/AttractionID/10