3) The Decemberists "Sons & Daughters" Orpheum, Boston 11/06/08
Two days after the historic presidential election, Colin Meloy and Co. encored with a very powerful and joyous "Sons & Daughters". Before leaving the stage Colin had this to say about the song:
"I don't want to get all VH1 Storyteller on you, but this song was written about three years ago at a very different time; it was an escapist song, an imagining of going somewhere else, of getting away. But, after Tuesday, you know as songs sometimes do, things change; they take on a different meaning for you. I hope this song, what it means to me now, is about staying right where you are and making changes at home."
He then brought about 30 people from the audience and opening act Loch Lomond up on to the stage to sing and dance along to the chorus, "Hear All the Bombs Fade Away/ Hear All the Bombs Fade Away" against one of the best musical drones of the last decade.
Yes, one of those fists being raised at the end of the show is mine.
2) The Avett Brothers: "St. Joseph's" Gondola Ride over Jackson Hole Mountain, 8/17/08
My favorite musical addiction of 2008. I was late coming to the table, but now I am a full on junkie. Watching them close the Harbor Stage at Newport Folk was a revelation. They were the only music going against Mr. Cheeseburger in Paradise who was on the Fort Stage, and they were going off! So much so, we gave them another 10 minutes. Actually that's a bit misleading. If we had not given them more time, chances are I would have been bludgeoned repeatedly by the frothing crowd.
After such a showing, I was more than ecstatic to have the christen the Jackson Hole Music Festival. Easily a thousand people waited at the gate to grab some front stage turf just for these guys. Not surprisingly ,they killed. Although they did play my favorite, "Murder in the City" it was tough to hear the quiet nuances that bleed from the album version.
Earlier in the summer I had the amazing fortune to ride a Ferris Wheel with Jose Gonzalez and Death Vessel while they played some mood music just for me. Check out the Video . So I thought why not see if the Avett Brothers would join me for a gondola ride. Beside playing human Tetrus around a snare drum, banjo, acoustic guitar, and full size stand up bass, this was one of the coolest moments of my career.
Over the twenty minute round trip, in between illuminating snippets of brotherly dialog and expressions of wonder at the jaw dropping vistas, the boys honored my request with an unplugged and penetrating "Murder in The City" and a brilliant "Bella Donna" with extended jam complete with the snare falling out when the doors momentarily opened at the top of the lift before we began our descent. However, it was the joy in "St. Joseph's" against the bluest of blue sky that left me sated and inspired.
In fact Go buy The Gleam II right now!
MMJ @ Bonnaroo
(photo by Dave Vann)
1) My Morning Jacket "Oh Sweet Nuthin'" Manchester TN, Bonnaroo July 13 -14 2008
Yes, you read that DST correctly. When you play for hours and hours on end starting at midnight and ending ???? in monsoon rains you have the right to say you played over two dates. It really should come as no surprise that MMJ is number one on this list as I spent the better part of 2008 traveling around the country watching Jim James sing AND getting paid for it. What a country.
In March I spent four straight days with James and the boys catching a blow the door off the hinges set at the Parrish, a dark eared bizarro gig at the Austin Music Hall, an acoustic late night Jim James show at a Church w/M. Ward, a late late night mini DJ set in a suite at the Driskill and a hilarious trip to the Austin Zoo, all which you can read about in fine detail in the July cover story.
In August James showed up at Newport Folk and basically owned the joint sitting in with She & Him, M. Ward and Calexico and of course throwing down an ethereal rain soaked solo set which included a haunted "It Beats for You" that stunned yet another drenched crowd into pin drop silence. ****
Aquarium Drunkard put it best:
Whereas parts of Jim James solo set at Newport gave way to Evil Urges– a quiet “Sec Walkin’,” and a peaceful “Look at You,” among others — it was Z’s“It Beats 4 U” that stole the show. While he fingerpicked a spiny melody and the rooftop rain slowed to a patter, James shouted out in a soulful lament, his voiced cloaked in his now-trademark reverb. For four minutes, no one spoke and no one moved: not the security detail, not the audience; it was one of those rare live moments when everything stands still and time arrests itself, and it’s these moments that James and My Morning Jacket seem to be creating more and more of.
You can listen to it below and Aquarium Drunkard also put up the whole set for download here: Jim James at Newport
****(there's also the absinthe fueled Janet Jackson/Gregorian chant sing along in my high school chapel at 3:30 am but we'll save that for another blog)
Yet believe it or not these all did not match the sheer power of MMJ on a wet hit summer night in June. My perennial Bonnaroo wing-man Todd and I set up at the soundboard and did not move for thirty three straight songs. While setting lofty benchmarks for their originals it was also a night of covers; covers that were eclectic, apropos, humorous, funky, and smokin' in every shape and form, including
"Hot Fun in the Summer Time", "Hit It and Quit It", "Tyrone","Cold Sweat", "Get Down On It", "Across 110th St", and of course "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue feat. Zach Galifianakas dressed as Little Orphan Annie.
But none encapsulated the sheer exhausted ebullience as Velvet Underground'd "Oh, Sweet Nuthin'" . During that song everyone left standing knew they were witnessing an epic night in this band's young career. It may not sound like perfection on tape but as far as what live music can do for the soul and spirit of a listener when witnessed in the flesh it was pretty freakin' close. It was a 15 round heavy weight bout where everyone left the ring better off from the band's beatdown. For the last two minutes of the song people simply raised their hands in giggling adulation while the sheets of rain washed away any lingering inhibitions. Later, as the band came off stage I hugged Patrick Hallahan who seemed close to collapse and thanked him for replenishing my faith.
"From our heart to yours" was his reply.
If that's not the goal of live music than I don't know what is.
Oh Sweet Nuthin (Velvet Underground) - My Morning Jacket