Kicking Television: Live in Chicago is a live album by Chicago alternative rock band Wilco, released on November 15, 2005 by Nonesuch Records. The album consists of material from four live shows at Chicago's Vic Theater recorded May 4, 2005 to May 7, 2005. Although the band filmed the concerts, they decided not to release the footage as a DVD. It was the band's first album with an expanded lineup featuring Nels Cline and Pat Sansone.
Kicking Television debuted on the Billboard 200 at number forty-seven, and has since sold over 114,000 copies. Critical reception to the album was generally positive. Publications such as The A.V. Club and Pitchfork Media lauded the band's performance of material from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, while Stylus Magazine found little musical progression within the songs.
Wilco decided to use concerts from their hometown of Chicago "because [they] wanted to be really comfortable". They chose a string of four consecutive shows from May 4 to May 7, 2005 at The Vic Theater in Chicago, Illinois. The band recorded the four shows on a 24-track digital recorder. The shows were filmed for a potential DVD release, but the band decided not to release the footage. According to Tweedy, the band was disappointed by how the footage "sapped" the energy out of the performances. On September 13, 2005, the band announced that the album would be released on November 1, 2005. The release date was later delayed two weeks.
Most of the material from the album—17 of 23 songs—is from Wilco's two Nonesuch Records releases: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born. The title track was an outtake from the Ghost recording sessions because the band considered it to be one of their most exciting songs live. Tweedy explained why it was chosen for the title:
A rock concert is "kicking television." If you're out of the house and with a bunch of people enjoying something together, that's kicking television to me. I don't think very many people, myself included, will ever kick television cold turkey, but I certainly think more people should be aware of what it's doing to them.
Two live tracks from Summerteeth were also included on the album, as well as one song each from Being There, Mermaid Avenue and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II. The final track was a cover of "Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers)", originally performed by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. "How to Fight Loneliness" (from Summerteeth) and "Monday" (from Being There) were included with purchase of the album on iTunes.
Guitarist Jeff Tweedy provided the lead vocals for the album and John Stirratt, the only other original member of the band, played bass guitar and added backing vocals. Lead guitarist Nels Cline and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone performed here on a Wilco album for the first time. Glenn Kotche performed on the drums and other percussion instruments, and Mikael Jorgensen played keyboards. Other instrumentation was provided by Patrick Newbery (trumpet and flugelhorn), Nick Broste (trombone), and Rick Parenti (baritone sax).
Nonesuch Records released the album on November 15, 2005. The album debuted at number forty-seven on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spent two weeks on the chart. As of April 13, 2007, the album has sold over 114,000 copies.
Kicking Television was well-received by critics; according to Metacritic, it was one of the top twenty-five best reviewed albums of 2005. Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club called the album "stellar" and expressed surprise over how well the A Ghost Is Born songs sounded live. Allmusic editor Mark Deming lauded the "new muscle and force" of the songs, and commented that "the élan of this band in full flight shows that the fun has been put back in Wilco. Marc Hogan of Pitchfork Media called the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot songs "still awesome" and remarked that "this is what A Ghost Is Born is supposed to sound like." Hogan gave the article an 8.3 out of 10 rating. Q Magazine named the album one of the top 20 live albums of all time.
Although most reviews applauded the effort, critics also expressed discontent with elements of the album. Hogan noted in his Pitchfork review that Tweedy's banter was "ho-hum", and stated that "Kicking Television" and "The Late Greats" should have been cut from the album. Andrew Gaering of Stylus Magazine gave the album a B rating, but was disappointed with how the songs "find the band holding serve".