Wilco’s return to Rockford
By Shane Nicholson
One of America’s most celebrated modern rock bands returns to a Rockford stage for the first time in nearly two decades this summer.
Chicago’s Wilco comes to the Coronado Performing Arts Center on June 14, giving area music fans hope that we will no longer be subjected to the latest pop-née-country offering as its only matter of live entertainment.
Formed from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo’s breakup in 1994, frontman and guitarist Jeff Tweedy’s crew features just one other original member: bassist John Stirratt. But Wilco’s blend of pop structures with classic rock and Americana vibe has sustained the group’s tumultuous history.
A culture shift in the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority, the city’s music venue manager, brought about the chance for such an act to roll through town. RAVE board member Howie Heaton said it started with a challenge to SMG, the private management firm RAVE contracts with on shows and venues.
“The RAVE board has been, for sometime really, asking SMG to raise the bar on the shows we get in here. And SMG has done a stellar job.”
Heaton says the advisory board RAVE instituted with organization board member and local attorney Michael Schirger at the helm has allowed the city to attract bigger and better music acts.
“Schirger and (RAVE executive director Troy) Flynn have done a phenomenal job. We set out to deviate a little bit from our traditional model of renting out a facility,” said Heaton. “We’ve begun co-producing and funding some acts ourselves.”
If early indications are any sign, the likes of Wilco and similar bands coming to Rockford will be greeted with enthusiasm. “This is what I call a ‘win’ for Rockford,” former Kryptonite owner Chris Wachowiak said on Twitter, a message echoed across social media on Monday following the show’s announcement.
“This effort is kind of a model change for us,” Heaton added. “We want to bring more and more acts like this to Rockford. This is the first major name we’ve landed under this system, and Schirger really deserves a lot of credit.”
Tickets for June 14’s show go on sale Wednesday at Ticketmaster.com, and will also be available at the Coronado and BMO Harris Bank Center box offices, or by phone at 815-968-5222.