During a sublimely transcendent moment of “Dondante” in My Morning Jacket’s Lexington show, I inhaled strongly and sucked a cough drop quickly into my throat. In the instant I thought “Can I breathe?” I hadn’t recovered enough to really know the answer. Assuming the worst, I realized that — should I have to die before my time — you could do a lot worse than to go out at a My Morning Jacket concert.
Now, all this happened in the time it takes to blink twice — so I really didn’t move or react. But it was a very weird moment that really drove home just how good My Morning Jacket are live. If I’d feared for my life at most any other band I’d imagine my mind would be racing with thoughts of “This is how I die? At a buzz band showcase at SXSW??” But nope. This is a band I’ll stand with forever; a band I’ll live and die with — but thankfully not for a while on that last one.
Let me start by saying that I had to leave this show early. I had to make a PM drive to West Virginia to attend a funeral, so I checked out just after the band played a song or two after Ben Sollee joined them to play “Wonderful.” Had I stayed for the full show, I’m fairly confident that I could easily call this the second best time I’ve seen My Morning Jacket. The first will most likely forever be late night Bonnaroo 2006. Their three hour set in the rain made my first time seeing MMJ absolutely incredible. But this was as good as a coverless present-day set of theirs probably gets.
Durin ghte show a lot of ideas ran through my head about how Jim must feel to be back in Lexington. A few songs in and I realized that everything I figured he must be thinking was actually somehow what I would think if I was in his situation. He lived in Lexington for a bit in college and spoke a few times about it. He shared the story about being here for UK’s championship basketball loss and victory in 97/98 (“No matter what, you fucking rioted”) and a bit of well aimed local college pandoring: “God bless the Euclid Avenue Kroger!” A good deal of My Morning Jacket’s formation happened in UK’s Holmes Hall. And though it seems Lexington didn’t do much to support MMJ in the early years, he clearly holds no grudge. Or if he does, he didn’t let it get in the way of an incredible show and some cheerful between-song banter.
What made this show extra special was the return of the opener Ben Sollee. I’m generally a fan of opener collaboration — this one especially so. Ben came out to play cello three times, the best of which was his contribution to “Wonderful.” That track has long been played live by MMJ, but it’s finally going to appear on the upcoming record Circuital featuring Ben on cello. It was fantastic. I remember hearing Ben’s cello on a few My Morning Jacket songs when he toured with Jim and Daniel Martin Moore, but this takes that to a completely new level. My only wish is that the cello had been turned up a bit — kinda hard to fight its way out from a drum kit and several distorted guitars.
The only other really noteworthy inclusion was the Tennessee Fire track “Butch Cassidy,” which Jim talked a bit about. He said he wrote that song in Holmes Hall after getting off work at Fazolis. Giant cheers from the crowd, many of whom no doubt get off work from crappy jobs and go back to tiny dorms on that same street. It didn’t come across as an intentionally inspiring thing, but to me it was. To any aspiring songwriters in the auditorium, that story would have come across as a godsend of encouragement. And I hope it did. Only I hope the next superstar to come out of UK put in their time in Kirwan tower — that way I’ll have a reason to smile.
Hours later and I still can’t decide if Record Store Day 2011 was more stressful or more fun. There were moments where I was sure the crowd was too big, but everyone stayed respectful and had a great time. Major thanks to all the bands that played, My Morning Jacket for signing things longer than they were supposed to and the customers who helped each other out in the music nerd version of Black Friday. Oh, and thanks to my coworkers who will probably not fully recover until Tuesday.
I kept my RSD purchases to a minimum this year. I grabbed Of Montreal’s 12″ and — of course — My Morning Jacket’s “Circuital” 12″ that was limited to CD Central and Ear X-tacy. A few hours in I talked myself into grabbing Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity for the translucent green upgrade in the reissue. I was going to grab the Flaming Lips’ box set, but my boss told me we’ll be able to get it again very soon, so I figured I’d leave what we had for customers to mull over. I’d hoped for Cults or the White Stripes seven inch, but no-go on either. We didn’t get any Stripes and I never saw the Cults single, though we did have it.
Leroy DJing between bands
One of the biggest treats of the day was, surprisingly, Leroy’s DJ set. It was a fantastic mix of old 45s, not one of which I recognized. I’m going to beg him to DJ the next time I book a show. And the best part is that his incredible sets always gave way into some of Lexington’s best bands. I pretty much stayed out of the booking process for Record Store Day this year, so I got to be pleasantly surprised with all the great bands we snagged! Unfortunately I only got to see about a song from each band, but they all sounded on top of their game.
And before I turn it over the the photos, I just want to say a big thanks to My Morning Jacket. We asked if they’d be able to play an instore (quite the longshot), they offered the idea of an exclusive 12″ and in-store appearance instead. I’m not sure, but that might actually be the better deal. Not only that, but they were far nicer than you could expect most people to be when signing things and listening to stories for an hour.
As for me, when I found out they’d be doing a bit of signing I printed up a poster of a shot I took at their Bonnaroo 2008 show. It’s currently signed and framed on my wall.
Record Store Day 2011 was a blast. Can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Record Store Day is tomorrow and there’s a great chance there’s a store near you that’s celebrating. If you live in Lexington, KY then there’s a certainty that a store near you will be putting on RSD festivities. I work at CD Central and we’ve spent the past few months shaping together our plans for tomorrow. Here’s a quick outline of what you can expect.
We’ve got some of our favorite local bands to rock you from early to late. We’d love to have this show outside, but we’re pretty sure the rain will drive us indoors. Oh well. Who doesn’t love to shop for limited edition vinyl in the middle of a great rock concert? That might actually be what heaven is like.
Noon: Arcane Rifles
1 pm: High Water Marks
2 pm: Matt Duncan
3 pm: They Yearn For What They Fear
4 pm: Fifth on the Floor
5 pm: Palisades
My Morning Jacket will be stopping by mid-afternoon to sign a few things and take over our stereo for a bit. They won’t be playing live, but they have ordered up 600 limited-edition 12″ of “Circuital” to be split just between Ear X-Tacy and CD Central. So thank them for that (after you’ve snagged one, of course) and maybe ask ’em to sign it.
I’ve seen the boxes. We have a ton of stuff this year. We might not have everything (last I was there we still didn’t have any White Stripes stuff — major bummer), but we’ve got pretty close to it. Get there early because lines formed over an hour before we opened last year. Seriously, people were at the store before I was. We open at 10am and close at 8pm — regular hours.
10% off storewide (excludes some obvious things like tickets and gift certificates). There are also mountains of $1 CDs and discount records.
The day is upon us. It’s time for our first listen to a studio version of anything from My Morning Jacket’s Circuital. I got an advance peek at this since that exclusive 12″ has already showed up at CD Central.
Don’t forget that MMJ will be playing Lexington on Sunday April 17. Tickets are still available at the UK box office. The band will also be popping in for Record Store Day festivities at CD Central, but won’t be picking up any instruments. So download the song and check below fr a video of MMJ playing this one live at VH1 Storytellers — which will be on air Friday June 3rd. Circuital is out May 31.
My Morning Jacket share snip of “Holdin On To Black Metal”
I don’t normally get excited for those “stream 30 second clip” things that Amazon regularly does, but hey — this is My Morning Jacket. Hear a snippet from Circuital‘s “Holdin On To Black Metal,” the track that ?uestlove is loving.
Kentuckians My Morning Jacket have always loved and promoted the Bluegrass state. Really, they’re better to us than most bands are to their home state. The latest example of their love is today’s news: My Morning Jacket will be pressing up a 12″ Record Store Day single of the title track of their new record Circuital that will be available only at CD Central in Lexington and Ear X-Tacy in Louisville.
The single will be white-label, one track and only 600 total will be pressed. Rumor has it that My Morning Jacket might be on hand at CD Central to sign a few of these sometime during Record Store Day, but we’ll have to see how that plays out.
No word on price or per-person-limit, but I do know the singles will be split evenly between the stores. Also CD Central doesn’t offer mail-order or online purchases of store stock, so please don’t call me at work to ask.
Shazam! My Morning Jacket are set to play their first Lexington show in… well, in a very long time. The Student Activities Board of the University of Kentucky just announced that MMJ will be playing Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, April 17. Ticket info is a little confusing (as is normal with college shows), so I suggest you check out the official notice and figure out your best bet over there.
Student tickets go on sale Monday March 7 and are $25 for floor and $20 for upper arena. General public tickets are $50/45.
My Morning Jacket’s show on Friday couldn’t have been a bigger celebration of local flavor if you’d had Will Oldham riding around piggy back on David Pajo. The biggest band to come out of Kentucky was backed by the Louisville Youth Symphony Orchestra at a hometown show in the brand-new arena built by a company based in the same city. It was a Louisville sandwich six layers deep — and it was delicious.
Having seen My Morning Jacket a few times now, I’ve got to seriously wonder if they aren’t the best band in America. The Roots might be a little tighter and ready to go with less practice, but they don’t exactly have a “One Big Holiday” or “Gideon” under their belt. And while I’m convinced there’s no better place to see MMJ than at a late night show at Bonnaroo, this symphony-backed show was a close second.
With the band fresh off their five-night stay in New York playing the entirety each of their studio albums, it was really anyone’s guess what the setlist would look like. But with about 25 highly recognizable hits to their name, there really wasn’t that much wiggle room in the setlist. here) The only omission in my opinion was my favorite, “Run Thru,” but they did a tease of the ending tacked on to “Smoking from Shootin.” That and the inclusion of “The Way He Sings” made up for it.
So about two hours in and we’ve had a lovely show with great backing from the orchestra (which you could often not hear, but that’s not the point) — how do you top it? Why with costumes and an insane encore, of course! During the encore break, someone came out dressed up as a chicken. I elbowed my friend and said “pretty gutsy to come in a chicken suit to the KFC arena.” Then, as if to one-up my joke, Jim James came out fully dressed as Col. Sanders. He and the chicken passed a heart around and then he grabbed a guitar and sang incredible versions of “Bermuda Highway” and “Librarian.” Let me also pause for a second and say that “Librarian” has definitely become a huge fan favorite. I thought it was just one that I enjoyed, but the crowd went nuts when he started into it.
After those two solo songs, the entire band came out dressed as Col Sanders. We got what few megahits were left, followed by a cover of “Move On Up” and a great performance of — you guessed it — “One Big Holiday” to close. For the last song, the band brought out the giant puppet walkers who had been in the lobby earlier. It made the stage a bit crowded, but was a really joyous way to end it all.