It’s only been three years since beloved Chicago alt rock outfit Wilco released their tenth LP, Schmilco, and only two since the group last toured, but given all of their individual activity since (and their prolific schedule in the years prior), it feels like much longer. Frontman Jeff Tweedy, particularly, has been incredibly active, releasing a memoir and pair of solo albums, and hitting the road in support, even passing through town earlier this year to play TPAC. As Tweedy’s activity winds down, Wilco have wound back up, and after a European tour this summer, the band are in the midst a fall trek of dates stateside, including a headlining stop tonight, Oct. 20 at the Grand Ole Opry House. The show marks Wilco’s first Nashville area appearance since the inaugural Pilgrimage Festival in 2015, and first headliner since a pair of Ryman dates the year prior, and comes just weeks after the release of their excellent new album Ode to Joy. Though, unsurprisingly, only a handful of tickets remain, you can still snag a seat of of writing right here, then read on for more about the show, which also features an exciting opening set from breakout local artist Soccer Mommy!
Initially formed 25 years ago in Chicago, Wilco‘s roots trace back to seminal alt-country group Uncle Tupelo, whose brief run from 1987-1994 made them a beloved and influential cult favorite, and spawned several more prominent subsequent acts. After mounting tensions between Tupelo singer Jay Farrar and bandmate Jeff Tweedy, Farrar split to form something of a spiritual successor, Son Volt, while Tweedy, who’d long been enamored just as much with rock and punk as the group’s more country leaning influences, regrouped with the remainder of Uncle Tupleo’s final lineup, and stepped into the role of frontman with Wilco. Though their 1995 debut, A.M., felt like a logical extension of their prior band, earning them a major label deal and positive critical reception, ’96 followup Being There was more of a formal introduction to what would become Wilco’s genre and era-defining, artsy, boundary-pushing, more alt rock rooted sound. The first decade of their career saw a rotating lineup of band members (only bassist John Stirratt has been with Tweedy from the start), and modest commercial success despite overwhelmingly positive critical praise. After a couple of collaborative works with Billy Bragg, and tepid sales for their third LP Summerteeth, Wilco, after presenting their label with fourth effort Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, were notoriously dropped, subsequently able to retain their recordings, build hype with fans, and ink a new deal for a 2001 release, with the album ultimately becoming their most commercially successful, best-known, and critically beloved, kicking off a newfound wave of widespread fame, and catapulting their prestige and acclaim in the ’00s. By 2004’s multiple Grammy winning A Ghost Is Born, the group had settled on a new lineup which has remained intact ever since, giving way to a string of five more recent full-lengths over the last 15 years, navigating everything from their folk and country roots, to alternative and experimental rock, indie, art rock, and beyond, along the way becoming a festival staple, and one of the most esteemed Chicago bands of all time. Especially over the last decade or so, Wilco have seen their members branch off to partake in various solo and side projects, all to much acclaim, and though their main output is a bit less prolific than it once was, the band continue to tour relentlessly, and to return with fresh, inventive, and essential works each time they regroup. Any chance to see Wilco is sure to be an unforgettable experience, and their debut at the Opry House will no doubt be just as magical- don’t miss out!
It’s only been a couple of years since local artist Sophie Allison first felt emboldened to embrace a lifetime of songwriting prowess, and released her introductory crop of bedroom recordings online under the moniker Soccer Mommy. Fresh out of high school, the young singer’s knack for crafting laid back, raw, and emotionally resonant songs helped her immediately plug into the flourishing Nashville DIY scene and generate broader interest, before soon relocating to New York to attend NYU and committing to foster her art from afar. As Soccer Mommy’s buzz continued to grow, Sophie inked a deal with Fat Possum Records, who released Collection, a chilled-out and loosely focused culmination of her lo-fi bedroom pop, in 2017. In the subsequent year, the project gained an unprecedented amount of traction, leading to Allison’s decision to put school on pause and return to Nashville to make Soccer Mommy her full-time focus, all the while touring the nation and sharing the stage with some big names like Paramore, Slowdive, and Mitski, and opting to take a more formal studio approach for the first time in crafting her gorgeous debut full-length, last year’s Clean. Released early last year, Clean delivers on the promise of the foundation laid by all of Soccer Mommy’s earlier work, maintaining the intimate, nuanced, and profoundly personal approach, which lands with an emotional weight and effortless cool that makes the 21-year-old up and comer one of indie rock’s most essential modern acts. Though sonically distinct, Soccer Mommy’s fast ascent and critically lauded career trajectory seems to be mirroring that of fellow local Julien Baker, and, like Baker, Sophie’s the real deal, earning ubiquitous praise for what is, without a doubt, one of last year’s most incredible albums.
Wilco and Soccer Mommy will perform tonight, Oct. 20 at the Grand Ole Opry House. The show is all ages, begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are available to purchase for $35-79.50.