My Morning Jacket/the Duo/the Slip
December 1, 2006
words/photos by Jake Krolick
December 1, 2006 touched down in Philadelphia at a balmy 68 degrees. On a day so unseasonably warm, it was only fitting to accept it with a massive triple bill of the Slip>The Duo>My Morning Jacket. We welcomed the three bands with open arms and a Friday night gusto that only the balmy weather can bring out.
Each of these bands sat high on the thrones of new releases and fifth year anniversaries. The Slip’s new record Eisenhower, has introduced a new grandeur to their sound with a reinvented style of rock. They started their day at noon with a short WXPN simulcast interview/tune-play mash-up at the Electric Factory. It was light, fun and just enough of a taste to wet palates for their 45 minute evening set.
Dressed in nifty little animal hats, the trio of both Brothers Barr and Marc Friedman wasted no time elevating the mood. They brought the house to their knees with the perfectly timed “Even Rats.” A total twist from the lighter-than-air jams of the past, “Even Rats” punched forward to make its point. Andrew Barr’s polished touch on the drum kit propelled things ahead forming the conduit between the musical gaps. They’ve slowly morphed into a powerhouse and blurred the lines between the jam and indy genres. The divine twisting jams of the past were on pause, but the more significant facets of build-and-release were still rising to the forefront of their sound.
"Children of December" was easily their best received song of the night. The appealing tempo and well-laid refrain best summed up their strengths. Marc Friedman’s rhythm-driven bass satisfied cravings like a need for chocolate. Brad Barr ended the set perched on top of the bass amp. He shredded chords and strings on his guitar as he stood head and shoulders above his comrades.
The Duo busted out some of the delightfully dark energy I had grown to expect from them. Though lower in energy than we expected the highlight was a bizarre, alternating volume and speed version of "Best Reason to Buy the Sun.” Their positioning in between MMJ and the Slip seemed to toss the pace of the show off track. The Slip built the crowd up for some heavier play; and they were simply a let-down after that build.
My Morning Jacket’s latest release Okonokos proved just how many surprises My Morning Jacket was capable of producing. The first half hour of their show was filled with serious sonic rage. The appreciative crowd erupted with some of the most enthusiastic cheers ever heard as “Phone” went from a spunky, skanked-out groove into a colossal screaming finish. Jim’s vocal range was astounding as he let his voice bounce and waiver through every inch of the E-Factory.
“Phone” was matched by its evil twin “Dancefloors,” flaunting its intense and weighty guitar glory. Jim leapt across the stage in time to Bo Koster’s keyboard bashing, unleashing his electrical tape skeleton moonboots in massive karate kicks as he went. He chopped away on his Flying V, eventually rounding up Two-Tone Tommy and Carl Broemel in front of the drum kit. The three formed a line of stringed fury that couldn’t be penetrated.
My Morning Jacket brought their “this is the last song we’ll ever play” energy to every number. Simply holding your feet to the floor while watching the show was nearly impossible, yet it was exhilarating just to try.
Carl Broemel set free a beautiful alto saxophone solo, ending “I Will Sing You Songs.” His amazing illustration of poise and tender touch led directly into “Run Thru.” Carl joined Jim on peddle steel to play the gorgeous duet. The combination showed another stunning example of MMJ’s range as they uncorked one more from their supple repertoire.
My Morning Jacket brought giant, weighty, succulent rock and roll into Philadelphia. The encore was cruising towards us when they lashed out an "Off the Record" and brought a serious case of back and neck trauma to the crowd. It was well worth the pain the next morning to experience the pleasure the night before.
The band's agnatic leader Jim James stood before us as a comic book hero version of Eddie Vedder-meets-Neil Young. His impeccable song writing and hauntingly beautiful voice were only matched by his energetic play and stage domination. There are musicians who can do one or two of these things well, but someone who truly shines at all is a rare find.