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My Morning Jacket [8/8/11]

Is there a band that enjoys performing as much as MMJ?  Is there a frontman as entertaining as Jim James?  Am I writing this while drinking something other than Faygo Redpop?  No.  No to all.    

Wing and Tusk guitarist Nat Hagey and I were struck by how much fun Jim James was having onstage.  Had they been playing in a basement, I’m sure the set would have been just as awesome.

And just like the last time MMJ played the LC, there was a slight rain which seemed to enhance the crowd’s enjoyment, especially the cloud burst accompanying closer “One Big Holiday” (is there a better set-closing song?).

Other highlights included “Touch Me And I’ll Scream Pt. 2” featuring James playing a freaking omnichord, feel-good anthem of wonderment “I’m Amazed,” and riff-of-the-year candidate “Holdin’ On To Black Metal.”

For me, though, the show’s peak was an extended jam on set-staple “Dondante”.  The lyrics have always conjured dark images, but I’ve never researched the song’s meaning. In a recent episode of VH1’s Storytellers, Jim James emotionally prefaces the song with story of a friend he met in fourth grade; a friend who he admired, dreamt big with, and started his first band with; and, ultimately, a friend who took his own life.

After digging through MMJ’s message board, a post revealed that “Jim wrote the song for his friend and ex-bandmate Aaron Todovich.  Aaron committed suicide after struggling with mental illness his whole life.” Jim went on to explain that every time they play the song, he goes to the back of the stage to say a few words to his lost friend. Knowing the reason for this retreat adds a heavy layer to an already emotionally-soaked song.  Listening to James play leads almost sounds like him raging at the premature loss of his friend. Some R. L. Stine-level goosebumps through the whole thing.

Set here.

Totally unrelated to the show itself is a seemingly recent spike in MMJ’s popularity on account of a MMJ-themed episode of American Dad in 2009.  While preparing for the show, I watched a lot of MMJ videos on Youtube and could help notice top comments like “Thumbs up if American Dad brought you here!”

Look, I’m all for discovering new bands through different media outlets, but if it took you an episode of American Dad to discover and appreciate My Morning Jacket, you’re doing it wrong.  Really, if it takes anything more than the titled track of their second album, At Dawn, we need to talk.

Were you at the show?  What was your favorite part?  Let me know!

Next up, a massive update of back-dated posts!

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