My Morning Jacket with Band of Horses
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
August 3, 2012
If you’ve ever been to Red Rocks, you know that there is no place on the earth quite like it. If you’ve ever been to a My Morning Jacket concert, you know that there really isn’t anything like it either. Combining the two? That sounded like one damn good show to me.
The only time prior that I had seen MMJ was for their 2008 tour and their subsequent stop at Red Rocks with opening band The Black Keys. Yeah, it was pretty awesome, so my expectations were quite high coming into the show.
I headed to the venue nice and early with my girlfriend Anna and roommate Brad, and fortunately didn’t have to work to hard to coerce them to join me. All I had to say was that MMJ was the best live band out there, and that we’d be tailgating before the show.
Just driving to the park is quite the sight, with beautiful red rock outcroppings dotting the landscape, and stoned hippies wandering around without shirts or shoes. We parked the car and began working on our cooler of brews, as my favorite pre-concert ritual is always drinking in or around the car. No, I’m not an alcoholic, I’m just cheap. Who wants to buy a $10 beer?
Because of our tailgate, we missed the first act, Trombone Shorty, but I did hear that it was a funky good time. We were able to gather ourselves enough to stumble in right as Band of Horses hit the opening chords to the new song, “Long Vows.”
We posted up right in the middle of the venue in row 43. The far away figures rocked through all the hits, with the highlight being the surprisingly ruckus “Is There A Ghost,” and the gorgeous closing single, “The Funeral.” Band of Horses put on a great show overall, and they sounded phenomenal in the amphitheater.
A few swigs of our flasks and a couple sneaky maneuvers later, we were 10 rows down, and eventually made it to great seats in the middle of row 25. While we were busy congratulating ourselves, MMJ unassumingly took the stage, and set a mellow vibe with the opening song, “Rollin’ Back.”
The show continued in an almost subdued fashion with some deep cuts from Tennessee Fire. The quieter tracks still translated great to the stage, including “The Dark” and “Heartbreakin’ Man.” Awhile later came the sing-along “Outta My System,” finally getting the crowd into the show. “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal” launched the show into a new dimension, with the perfect mix of catchy pop, trippy jam, and loud rock.
As quickly as the show was built up, it dropped back into the hushed, acoustic vibe. A few uninspired tracks were pepped up by Jim James amazing vocal on “I Will Sing You Songs,” where his voice hauntingly filled the entire amphitheater. Then came “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” with Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell sounding fantastic sharing vocal duties.
The show continued without the energy I was hoping MMJ would bring. On “Librarian,” I looked over at Anna and saw she had fallen asleep, but that’s pretty normal; she fell asleep on our last Red Rocks adventure too. I looked around and saw most of the crowd sitting down, which wasn’t a common MMJ concert sight.
The dullness was broken by the surprising “Rocket Man” cover. I learned, after killing another few flasks with Brad, that I can’t sing, and that I really don’t know any of the words to “Rocket Man.”
Then the show got funky, with “Wordless Chorus,” “Evil Urges,” and an Erykah Badu cover “Tyrone”. The funk was followed by a monster rendition of “Master Plan,” another selection of deep tracks, and closed with the crowd favorite, “Anytime.”
The the real fun started in the encore, as they came back and launched into what would end up being the strongest performance of the night on “Victory Dance.” A monster drum intro got the crowd dancing, and the energy stayed high, the guitars were loud, and Jim James finally donned his cape.
Next up was “Off the Record,” one of their best live songs at any venue. After many a flask, I was singing along and rocking some air guitar. Not Joe Cocker at Woodstock air guitar, but more dweeby-white-guy-that-can’t-dance air guitar. The show rounded out with a great cover of “Rock The Casbah,” and ended with the shimmering “Gideon.”
Per the Spontaneous Curation Series, MMJ promised not to play the same track twice over their two-day stint at Red Rocks and cater the set list to fan requests. This meant that we were able to hear lots of deep tracks that are rarely played in concert, but left something to be desired for one-night concert attendees. Those that saw both shows and a culmination of nearly 60 songs over seven hours were able to get the full experience.
In being able to watch the second show in its entirety on TV (way to go technology), I could clearly see that they brought more energy and more focus on Saturday. I felt like many points in the first show lacked the powerful MMJ dynamic, but I was still glad to hear some great tracks that aren’t on the normal set list.
If you get a chance to see MMJ, don’t miss them. If you get a chance to see anyone at Red Rocks, get up there and check it out, just please make sure you wear a shirt and shoes.
Can’t Miss: “Holdin’ On To Black Metal,” “I Will Sing You Songs,” “Victory Dance,” “Off The Record.”
Can’t Hit: “War Begun,” “Easy Morning Rebel,” “Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS cover), “Butch Cassidy.”