Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Knot Comes Loose

I had been on the fence about attending the My Morning Jacket show last night on account of my well-documented ambievalence about Z and the fact that it was an expensive show. Well a last-minute guest list spot changed my mind (thanks Georgi!), and it didn’t hurt that I’ve been coming around on Z in the last week or so, and last nights show eliminated any bit of fence-sitting that may have remained. In fact, in the afterglow of the show, I will declare that Z is a freakin’ classic.

I last saw My Morning Jacket just over two years ago when they were working the southern rock stylings of It Still Moves, and the material lent itself quite nicely to the explosive live show that MMJ were already known for. Z, however, is a much more eclectic and complex record than its predecessor, with fewer foot-on-the-monitor-approved rock outs. How would it translate live? Really well, actually. Starting off with Z opener “Wordless Chorus”, the band played almost completely in the dark, punctuated by strobe spotlights during the chorus – the effect, coupled with Jim James’ cosmic field holler of a voice, was otherworldly. James’ whooping overtop the outro of that song sounds amazing on record, but when you hear him live, you realize that he was holding back in the studio. Amazing.

That set the tone for the night – by performing the Z material (and the older stuff) flawlessly, My Morning Jacket proved their power as a live act goes far beyond just ripping solos and hair whipping around (though there was still a goodly amount of that). Though they still rock out hard – after all, you don’t strap on the Flying V if you’re not going to rock – they’re now working on a different level completely. They’ve just got that ineffable ability to captivate the audience with their performance – no gimmicks, just music. And volume. Actually, they seemed quite loud but the mix was damn near perfect. At an hour and a half, the set seemed a little short for a veteran jam-band circuit act, but with the thunderous closing one-two punch of “Mahgeetah” and “Anytime”, there’s no way anyone could have asked them to come back and top that. Plus they hit curfew right on the nose.

I’d initially felt a little cheated that Kathleen Edwards, who was supporting MMJ on every other date of the tour, was sitting this one out (likely because she’s got her own headlining show at the Phoenix in less than a month), but was quite pleasantly surprised to find the two acts they enlisted in her stead to be very much up to the task. Megan Hamilton offered up a short and sweet set of plaintive country-ish tunes, with very tasteful backing from electric guitar and drums and quite sophisticated arrangements. She was followed by another local, Royal Wood, whose Rufus Wainwright meets Harry Connick Jr jazzy-folk seemed a bit of an odd fit for the crowd. His smooth tunes, rich voice and sharp, laid back banter did much to win the crowd over.

My Morning Jacket seemed to be very much into the mood lighting, as darkness was very much the theme of the night. When they did hit the lights, they did so with strobes and intense colour gels, basically making photography damn near impossible. Still, I think I did alright. And I know this isn’t the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, and I apologize – but it was late and I was tired. Zzz.

Supplementary materials – Harp has their cover story on the band online (well, co-cover story. They’re also running Liz Phair covers, which is the one my local store had. Oh well, better than Blues Traveller). The Louisville Courier-Journal has a feature on their hometown boys and The Marquee and The Free Times round things off with more band interviews. And as a chaser, Filter points the way to the video for Z‘s first single, “Off The Record”.

John Darnielle of Mountain Goats declares Scarlett Johansson to be played out and submits some new hipster crush nominations to Nerve. Via LHB.

Behold – part 2 of Chart’s interview with Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard.

Joe Pernice is not letting his Indie Rock Cribs idea go gently into that good night. He’s posted the third episode, wherein he introduces us to some of his sweet, sweet wheels. We love you, Joe.

Calexico/Iron & Wine tickets for their December 9 show at the Docks are $25. Do with that information what you will.

The Torontoist week in shows.

The Associated Press and Austin 360 follow Neil Gaiman around on his book tour for Anansi Boys. Austin 360 link via Achtung Baby.

np – My Morning Jacket / At Dawn

By : Frank Yang at 8:56 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. suckingalemon says:

    you know how you mentioned them sarah harmer dates a little earlier well eye then puts in a listing a date for sarah with the weakerthans at glenn gould studios for around the same price on november 18th.

    to me that seems like the better deal but i wish the listings would make up their minds and not put information down which might not be true ala NOW listing bright eyes at lees.


  2. sp says:

    Sounds like the MMJ show was great. Damn, maybe I should have driven in for it. I figured I’d already seen them enough, but after reading your review, it makes me think I should have bit the bullet and went even though my friends decided to bail.

  3. Craig says:

    Glad you liked the show. Wish I had just absorbed the high(ish) ticket price and gone as well, in retrospect. "Z," I think, will be recognized in the future as an absolute classic record.

  4. Seth says:

    Yeah, the show was awesome last night – I kind of wish that they would of played some "At Dawn" material but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. Their cover of Nick Drake’s "Northern Sky" was gorgeous and it was nice to get older tunes like "Sooner" and, to my surprise, "The Dark".

  5. chris says:

    yeah, dude, MMJ’s show this tour is asskickin. i think they sound better live than on Z, and all of the other songs forking rocked too. ahhhhh

  6. catherine says:

    "cosmic field holler"? love it.

  7. John says:

    You can hear MMJ (and Kathleen Edwards) at the NPR Live Concert Series site:


    Pretty impressive line-up they’re putting together there.

  8. My Morning Snooze says:

    Z is way overrated. Don’t believe the hype?

    Instead checkout the new Public Enemy album

    New Whirl Odor. A very solid album indeed.

  9. echo says:

    saw the Calexico and Iron & Wine show in AZ Sunday night. Califone opened. Worth every penny. So much quality music in one night…it was really, really amazing…

    The live versions of In the Reigns kill the ep and the covers (i won’t ruin the fun) are extremely well done!


  10. Frank says:

    I just picked up In The Reins on vinyl today – sounds amazing. I think I will (grudgingly) be going to the show, Docks or no Docks. But I’ll bitch about it all the way.

  11. echo says:

    I think afterwards you’ll be glad you went. I know i was!