The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Alt-rock artist Matthew Sweet explores fame at Wildwood performance

The 1990s musical icon stopped at Wildwood in Iowa City during his tour throughout the Midwest, but spoke of his experience with — rather, his disdain for — success.
Ethan McLaughlin
Mathew Sweet performs on stage at Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon in Iowa City on Feb. 14.

Backed by a high-energy drum tempo and electric guitar power chords, alt-rock singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet and his band performed a sold-out Valentine’s Day show at Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon on Wednesday.

The acoustic guitar chords give a sound reminiscent of the ‘80s while supporting the soft vocals of Sweet. As one of the few Midwest stops in his ongoing tour, his Iowa City performance was highly anticipated due to Sweet’s five-year hiatus from touring and performing.

While the pitch range in Sweet’s set allowed him to showcase his versatile voice, electric guitarist John Mormon enhanced the power of Sweet’s sound through arpeggio-heavy solos. The band’s chemistry throughout the set allowed them to flow seamlessly through songs and solo changes.

The songs were well received by the high-energy audience, and the crowd’s spirit remained high throughout the set.

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Sweet began playing instruments at eight years old. Sweet started on the keys but was eventually gifted an electric bass in fifth grade that would become his instrument.

“I would just sit all day learning bass lines off of all kinds of different records,” Sweet said. “That was when music really captured me.”

With Sweet in his formative years during rock’s golden years, the 1970s was a monumental time for music and heavily influenced Sweet’s style. In ninth grade, Sweet started writing and producing his own music using the early multitrack recorders.

After reaching a level of success from his numerous hit songs such as “Girlfriend,” “Sick of Myself,” and “I’ve Been Waiting,” Sweet said he struggled with the high demands of fame.

“My life really changed as a musician. We were constantly touring; I would be gone for three to four months at a time,” Sweet said.

One of his songs, “Sick of Myself,” explores Sweet’s internal struggles with fame, conveying frustration and fatigue at his new life as a successful musician.

When thinking back on his most memorable performance, alt-rock singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet’s recalled his 2003 stop at the Royal Albert Hall in London, while touring with the then-Dixie Chicks.

“[Royal Albert Hall] has this incredible-sounding room,” Sweet said. “The walls are curved and really tall. It makes this echo that is unreal; I have never heard anything like it.”

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The creation of music itself is the most important factor to Sweet, who finds bliss in instrumentation and the process that goes into creating a song rather than listening to the product of his work.

“My joy ends when I finish recording,” he said. “When I am finished making a song I do not typically go back and listen to it … If my song is playing in a room, I will typically leave the room.”

For Sweet, he has continued making music for the love of the sport rather than with the objective of commercial success. His love of recording and creating music is evident when he takes the stage.

“You have to be in it for the music,” Sweet said. “For me, I never remotely thought about or wanted to be famous.”

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