Golden Smog: In A Barroom, Patrons Singing…

Tweedy and LourisSamorama is the reigning queen of all things Tweedy. She’s seen more Wilco and Tweedy-related shows than you ever thought happened. Here, Glorious Noise presents her account of the much ballyhooed Golden Smog reunion last week in Minneapolis. These tickest were damn near impossible to get, but you can bet where there’s Tweedy, there’s Sam.


Golden Smog reunites in Minneapolis

400 Bar, August 7, 2003

The secret to getting in to Thursday’s Golden Smog show at Minneapolis’s tiny 400 Bar was to buy tickets early, ask questions later. Nobody knew what the lineup was going to be, and rumors abounded right up to the night of the show. Golden Smog is the supergroup made-up of members of Wilco, the Jayhawks, Big Star and Soul Asylum and they haven’t all played together in years. When the doors opened around 8:30, the line of people wanting to get in was much longer than the line of people who were getting in, and offers of up to $300 were being made for pairs of tickets.

Scheduled opener Betty was bumped in favor of Kraig Johnson and The Program, which featured David Poe, Jim Boquist, Peter Anderson, Ed Ackerson. I really can’t imagine being the opening act for a band like Golden Smog, but these guys certainly pulled it off. The Program started out with a sonic bang, with a few big rocking numbers. It’s hard not to rock with three guitars on stage. Unfortunately they wound down into some mellow numbers, which left the crowd a bit restless.

The Smog took the (tiny!) stage around 11pm, and opened with the rather obvious “Looking Forward to Seeing You” featuring Kraig (hardest working man in Golden Smog?) with violinist Jessy Greene assisting on vocals. It was the first time in many years that all six who played on the full-length releases were on the stage together again, including Big Star drummer Jody Stephens. Frontman duties rotated throughout the night, so it was difficult to keep track of who played what and when. Jeff Tweedy was seen on bass, Dan Murphy on keyboards…even Mark Perlman got to sing lead on Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug”, when he wasn’t playing bass or mandolin.

Golden Smog
Photo by Jeff Wheeler
All the rocking numbers from the two albums (Down by the Old Mainstream, and Weird Tales) were featured, slowing down only for “Making Waves” and “He’s a Dick” really. Murphy’s girlfriend, Melissa, who was celebrating her birthday that evening came up and sang lead on a few. It’s not likely she’ll be on any reunion albums, but maybe it’s just because she didn’t project her voice. Louris sang the “cheesy” (his words) Elvin Bishop classic “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” which he promised to never play again.

The defining moment of the show had to have been “Until You Came Along.” Jim Boquist came out and played guitar, Tweedy sang backup, and literally carried Louris at the end as they embraced and he just sort of ended up straddling Tweedy. Those two came back for the encore and played “Radio King” and “Please Tell My Brothers” along with Greene, and then the rest of the group came back out for a final rock out which ended with a cover of Classic IV’s “Spooky.”

It was great to see guys who are either selling out huge venues or not getting seen much at all anymore playing in a tiny club and having a great time. They were by no means tight, but the enthusiasm more then made up for that. If only it would lead to a new album…

5 thoughts on “Golden Smog: In A Barroom, Patrons Singing…”

  1. Now there’s a show I wish I had seen. I remember back in the day deciding not to go see Golden Smog one night in Chicago in favor of doing something that’s now become utterly unrememberable. Darn.

  2. Yeah, I caught the December 98 show at the Metro. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. So much love and fun. Their version of Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” blew my head off.

    The next night I saw the Blues Explosion with Alex Chilton opening up. I think I made the decision then and there to move to Chicago. It took me a couple more years but I eventually made it!

  3. That’s awesome… not that REM compares in Glono’s eyes to Big Star and Wilco but this Friday here in Seattle. The Minus Five are opening up for the a partially reformed Zombies and it’s rumored that Peter Buck is going to be playing in both groups and I’m sure other REM’ers are going to be waiting in the shadows. Unfortunately, I’ve already agreed to see Neko Case (hubba, hubba!) with someone…

    On another note, I caught the JSBX with Chilton when it stopped in Detroit that same tour and Chilton was so damn awesome and me in my youthful ignorance had no clue who he was and why everyone else had heard of him.

    – Prop

  4. I actually missed all but three songs of Chilton’s set because I was next door at the Gingerman, and I didn’t believe that a show would actually start at nine o’clock. I had to learn this same damn lesson again when I missed most of the Mooney Suzuki when they opened up for the Hives… Damn all-ages shows, gotta get the kids home to bed early!

  5. That is freakin unbelievable. If I am not mistaken I thought there record label dropped them a few years back. I thought for sure there would be no more Smog. How good would that be to have a new Smog album out in the next year????????

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