Now that my freelance career is effectively over, I'm coming around to the idea that I don't need to get on a plane to attend shows. This My Morning Jacket concert is, I hope, the first in a series of gigs I see at home. Don't worry, though--those L.A. trips aren't drying up too soon.
My Morning Jacket, Greek Theatre, September 19, 2008: My East Bay excursions continue to dwindle. First, Amoeba Records opened a San Francisco store. Then Mod Lang pulled up roots to El Cerrito. And now Southwest flies out of SFO. At least Bakesale Betty is still over the bridge.
But if you really want to get me to the East Bay, there's one surefire strategy: Let me play hostess and tour guide around the university. I'm not exactly brimming with school spirit, but the arbitrary sense of pride that comes from having spent 4.5 years at an institution (that I was sorta forced to attend) kicks in from time to time. Go Bears--conveniently poised onstage tonight!
That's one of the reasons I ventured out for the My Morning Jacket show at the Greek Theatre. The venue remains low on my list of favorite local concert spots, but I wanted to reciprocate the endless hospitality Evonne shows me in SoCal. Besides, My Morning Jacket is always good for a bit of a spectacle, along with tons of tunage. I didn't even mind the drizzly mist that soaked us just enough to deflate hairstyles and smear makeup--though mercifully stopping short of the "drowned rat" aesthetic.
I have a hard enough time wrapping my brain around the sight of my most beloved bands playing bigger venues, but it's even weirder when you blink and discover the heights that other bands of interest have climbed. This show wasn't sold out, and we got decent spots on the rail well after doors opened, but a reasonably sized crowd showed up by the time the gig started. It wasn't the Fillmore, that's for sure.
The Fillmore also trumped the Greek Theatre in terms of decor, but I suppose you can't pull that whole doomed-settlers-on-the-move schtick at every appearance. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the band's undeniable fire on stage. They didn't relent at any point in the three-hour show, moving from the would-be arena fillers to the white-boy soul to those selections no other band can carry off. I also love that the band is still weird, perfectly personified by Jimmy James as he flung his cape around, kicked the air, and of course, whipped that mane all over the place.
I say this as a casual fan, so take it as you like, but despite the band's goofy energy, the pacing of the extended set suffered at times. I'm not asking for the hits, but a couple of segments felt dragged out and left me wanting a pick-me-up. Fortunately, the band has plenty of scorchers, and those barn burners dominated the encore. They closed with "One Big Holiday" for the perfect send-off.
» the way that he sings