For years, I've listened to friends rave about My Morning Jacket's intense live shows, but apart from American Dad's My Morning Straightjacket episode, I have barely been exposed to their music. The fault is squarely mine. I never properly motivated to see them, until now. And perhaps the timing was just right, cuz I finally felt ready-- I was actually psyched to go see My Morning Jacket.
A giant pregame gathering at Rogue included 1 questionable and 1 good cocktail-- disappointing, but they more than made up for it with the delicious chicken fingers layed upon a bed of french fries with 4 dippin' sauces (and of course, the Lady Gaga videos playing on the large screen). I've pregamed at Rogue before, but it would seem that during Happy Hour on a Wednesday at least, the Ring of Douche in that 'hood is wider than I had recalled. It was still easier to deal with than Stout.
Some of my friends are in musical-man-love with Band of Horses. Therefore, we headed in early to catch every second. I missed them at Bonnaroo 2009, because they played opposite Snoop Dogg & Erykah Badu. That particular scheduling conflict means that you are gonna catch Band of Horses some other time in the future, if they still exist. And they still do, so I did. See? Everything worked out! They had a kind of mellower Cowboy-ish Neil Youngy / Jane's Addiction Ballady / Wilco / Something Else (nutmeg?) in a blender. Ethereal anthemic layering brought their songs to each pitch. We debated whether certain songs were ultimately happy or sad, but always came to the conclusion that no matter which, they were all really pretty. The room was far from full, but the band played it well and the crowd absorbed it all in. I could see them doing really well at moe.down.
By the time the set was over, I had to piss like a Band of Horses. It was one of those 2-minute pees that warms you up, because you have been using all your reserve energy normally allocated to sustaining body heat towards holding it in for so long.
They are renovating Madison Square Garden. The hallways are foreign. There are many more full bars, which is awesome for those of us who can't drink beer. Now, instead of just being plastic water bottle cap Nazis, they pour all beverages into cups. Nothing like increasing your costs and creating excessive waste, is there? Way to think locally, act globally, and pass on the savings, MSG. So, if you were planning on throwing capless bottles of pee at your favorite artists/athletes, you're out of luck-- don't forget to bring a Ziplock. Another change: they've removed the walkway inside the arena between the 100's & 200's section. This will definitely make travel within shows more challenging.
The place had filled in and it was time for My Morning Jacket to begin to close out their tour. A few of us parked our asses in section 101 and the new chairs fucking swallowed us whole. These cushiony chairs are dangerous. Specs-wise, there's less leg room (I'm 5'4 and only had about 2 inches of knee-wiggle room when fully slouched), but there are cup holders now and what red-blooded American doesn't love a fucking cup holder or 20K? Only the Commies!
MMJ immediately created a strange, but really comfortable space in the room, while maintaining an absolutely electric energy level. They cruised around their huge catalog of songs, with stops in each genre. They got into some large, noisy, loud grooves and fucking shredded some twistedly sweet Southern Rock / Nashville / Honky Tonk sounds. There was even a little Morphine-y thing going on at points. Always building, and always able to be inhaled deeply. We said "WOW", a lot. The lighting and stage design were intensely beautiful compliments. It was pretty damn awesome.
Jim James is an effective howler. A friend explained this is because he is from Kentucky and they howl a lot there. He also reminded me that MMJ love recording in a grain silo-- something I'd read in Rolling Stone earlier this year, but had never quite understood until now. MSG had been magically transported to the inside of a grain silo outside of Louisville, Kentucky. And that would be the definition of "effective howling".
Also, not to sound like Stan Smith or anything, but Jim James is a motherfucking Showman. One doesn't typically see lead guitarists channeling James Brown and Liberace, except for maybe Prince, but-- he Prince. Fantastic Footwork + a Cape / Cloak to set the drama + all the Louder Than Life attributes of a Kickass Rock n' Roll Lead Man = That Guy.
Encore was fabulous and included a cameo by Brian Jackson, a Jazz Flute Ambassador of sorts. He sat in on an 80's cover called The Bottle, and I gotta be honest with you, it came a little out of nowhere, was very Starsky & Hutch/Shaft/Jethro Tull, and I had the giggles the entire way through. Mad respeck, though. They closed the show/tour with I'll Be Home For Christmas, which only worked because Jim James was wearing giant black cloak, hood up. Super dark.
The crowd was a pretty entertaining scene that kept digging itself a deeper hole throughout the night. I haven't seen so much bromance in a single arena since that Promise Keepers convention.
Shit yeah, My Morning Jacket was fucking awesome and I will totally see them again!! This was a kickass show that completely blew me away. I am glad I was finally able to accept My Morning Jacket into my life. It was time. I BELIEVE!!!! Band of Horses were super pretty and I'll definitely check them out again, though would prefer a smaller venue next time. The sound in the Garden was mixed well enough, but it was HELLA loud in there. Like, a wall of loud. Ugh, MSG-- why do you make my ears ring??? Whyyyyyy?!!?
My Morning Jacket & Band of Horses (+ being surrounded by awesome friends and all of the warming goodness that brings along with it), 12/14/11, MSG, NYC: 9.2 HUZZAHS!!!!
K, so, I put little-to-no-effort into taking pics at this show (aka, getting off my lazy ass), which is why I'll direct you to the absolutely awesome ones that Brooklyn Vegan has posted-- there are some great vids in there too. Thanks, Brooklyn Vegan!
It Beats 4 U ->
Outta My System ->
Smokin' From Shootin
Run Thru (end) ->
Touch Me, I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2 ->
Off The Record ->
Bermuda Highway @
Day Is Coming
The Bottle #
Holding On To Black Metal -> +
One Big Holiday
I'll Be Home For Christmas %
* = w/Ben Bridwell from Band Of Horses on vocals
+ = w/Dearland horn section
# = w/Brian Jackson on flute and keys
% = w/all of Band of Horses standing around 1 vocal mic
@ = Jim James solo acoustic
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! Thanks, Jon Pasternak! http://www.archive.org/details/mmj2011-12-14.mg210.flac16
^ Christmas music drives me bonkers.