A History Of Wilco's Chicago Residencies

October 4, 2019

It's an exciting time for Wilco fans as the band just released their eleventh studio album Ode to Joy and will make the return of the Wilco Winterlude with a string of concerts at the Chicago Theatre December 15-19.

While not an annual tradition, Wilco have historically treated Chicago kind with multiple shows, sometimes at various venues, rather than making it a one-off stop on their tour.

As we spin Ode to Joy on repeat today and anxiously await their upcoming shows at the Chicago Theatre, let's take a look at the history of Wilco residencies in Chicago.

Related: Wilco To Make Long-Awaited Return To Chicago

There's a simple guideline we'll be following for this piece. First, a minimum of three shows have to take place over a condensed period of time. This removes multiple one-off shows the band performs in a year period, which they have done quite often in Chicago. All data and dates have been pulled from setlist.fm. If there's been an omission of some super secret or non-public Wilco residencies, feel free to yell at me on Twitter @martyrosenbaum.

Without further ado, let's dig in.


August 1: The Hideout

August 2-3: Riviera Theatre

It took a few years, but 2002 marks the first time Wilco played three consecutive shows in Chicago. The first date was a show at The Hideout with thousands likely telling you they were there, but in reality only a lucky few were. A quick Google search doesn't turn up much information about the show, but it was a short five song set featuring tunes like "I'm The Man Who Loves You" and "A Shot In The Arm". Following their Hideout show were two dates at the Riviera Theatre in support of their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.


October 29-31: Auditorium Theatre

2004 was a big step up for Wilco as the band performed a three night run at the 3,875 seat Auditorium Theatre. These shows marked the early days of what is now Wilco's current lineup with then newcomers Nels Cline and Pat Sansone taking the stage with the band. 

The new lineup was still feeling each other out during this time, however fans could see this group was destined for big things. Greg Kot summed it up perfectly in Chicago Tribune review writing, "the potential for this band has never been greater, its lineup loaded with multi-instrumentalists who give Tweedy more options than ever in his songwriting."

Plus, the Halloween show featured a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper". 


May 4-7: Vic Theatre

This was a seminal moment in Wilco's career that resulted in their masterpiece live album Kicking Television: Live In Chicago. Marking the first album to feature Cline and Sansone, the recorded was well received providing access to the power of Wilco's live shows. Wilco performed an impressive 121 songs (repeats included) over the four night run.


February 15-20: Riviera Theatre (no show on February 17)

Wilco's 2008 residency at the Riviera took a different path. The band put forth the lofty goal of playing all songs from their catalog, 81 at the time, along with covers and tunes from other projects. What resulted were massive setlists, guest appearances from Andrew Bird, and a re-imagining of their early work with a full band.


December 12: Civic Opera House

December 13: Riviera Theatre

December 15: Vic Theatre

December 16: Metro

December 18: Lincoln Hall

Wilco took a new approach to their Chicago residency in 2011 opting to perform at rotating venues rather than calling one home. While they played at familiar locations, 2011 also marked Wilco's first performances at Lincoln Hall and an incredible evening at the historic Civic Opera House. The Civic Opera House show featured cameos from Nick Lowe & Mavis Staples. That evening was concluded with Wilco, Staples, and Lowe delivering a memorable rendition of The Band's classic "The Weight".


December 5-12: Riviera Theatre (no shows on December 7 & 10)

Much like their 2008 residency at the Riviera, the 2014 Wilco shows featured the band performing songs from every era of their career. This was especially noteworthy because the band was celebrating their 20th anniversary. Each show concluded with an encore seeing the band go unplugged and treating the crowd to different acoustic versions of classic Wilco and cover songs.


February 22-26: Chicago Theatre (no show on February 24)

The 2017 shows marked the last time Wilco played Chicago. It also served as the kick off to their Schmilco World Tour as they treated fans to cuts from the album every night. 


December 15-19: Chicago Theatre (no show on December 17)

The story on this residency is still waiting to be written, but if past residencies are any cue, concertgoers will be in for a treat.