11/6 – Monsters of Folk

November 16, 2009

Last Friday, I attended what I do consider to be the best show I have been to thus far – Monsters of Folk at United Palace Theatre. It was a night of not only MOF songs, but those of My Morning Jacket, Bright Eyes, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, and Yim Yames. The set looks unbelievable written down, but that’s of course nothing compared to being there to witness it. The show seemed to get better and better with each song, anticipating what would come next, and being very pleasantly┬ásurprised many times.

Since I wasn’t writing down the set as it went on, this setlist will not be completely accurate, but definitely close to the actual one:
1. Say Please
2. The Right Place
3. Soul Singer In A Session Band (BRIGHT EYES)
4. Slow Down Jo
5. Lime Tree (BRIGHT EYES)
6. Man Named Truth
7. Bermuda Highway (MY MORNING JACKET)
8. Look At You (MY MORNING JACKET)
9. Ahead of the Curve
10. Golden (MY MORNING JACKET)
11. Baby Boomer
12. Lullaby + Exile (M. WARD)
13. We Are Nowhere And It’s Now (BRIGHT EYES)
14. Lenders in the Temple (CONOR OBERST)
15. I Will Be There When You Die (MY MORNING JACKET)
16. Chinese Translation (M. WARD)
17. To Save Me (M. WARD)
18. Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)
19. Temazcal
20. Wonderful (The Way I Feel) (YIM YAMES)
21. One Life Away (M. WARD)
22. One Hundred Million Years (M. WARD)
23. At Dawn (MY MORNING JACKET)
24. Goodway
25. Kathy With A K’s Song (BRIGHT EYES)
26. Smokin’ From Shootin’ (MY MORNING JACKET)
27. The Sandman, The Brakeman, and Me
28. Hit the Switch (BRIGHT EYES)
29. Losin’ Yo Head
3o. Map of the World
[ENCORE]
31. At the Bottom of Everything (BRIGHT EYES)
32. Whole Lotta Losin’
33. Another Travelin’ Song (BRIGHT EYES)
34. His Master’s Voice

I was brought to tears multiple times throughout the show, particularly during Golden, my absolute favorite song at this point in my life, as well as Lime Tree, a Bright Eyes song that never fails to make me tear up – especially with Jim James complimenting Oberst’s voice with a harmony three octaves higher.

In fact, every time James opened his mouth, it was impossible to keep my jaw from dropping. He delivered some of the best vocals I have ever heard during “At Dawn,” holding out notes that many vocalists could never imagine of hitting. He also had a tremendous amount of passion in his voice during “Smokin’ Without Shootin’,” which got every MMJ fan in the venue going crazy. As the lights on stage moved in all directions, shining upon expressions in the audience, I had never seen more soulful singing along in such a diverse group of concert go-ers; lovers intertwined in slow dance, friends swaying with arms linked, adults undoubtedly reminiscing, college kids throwing fists in the air – some grinning, some screaming, some sobbing. It was a fantastic thing to watch; only truly great songs evoke such great emotion.

It was also an extremely emotional experience to finally be able to hear a good amount of Bright Eyes songs live. I’ve been listening for seven years, yet missed my opportunity to see Bright Eyes live so many times. This show gave me the second chance I had been wanting so badly to hear the songs that define my childhood. I was not at all disappointed, as many of my favorites were played – I only wish I could have heard them at a more intimate venue. The encore was spectacular, and allowed everyone to rush up to the stage and dance and sing along to At the Bottom of Everything and Another Travelin’ Song. Probably the most fun of the night, for me at least.

One of the most impressive MOF number was one of their singles – “Dear God.” The most remarkable part of its live rendition was the constant flashing of different colored lights throughout the entire song – bright purple, electric blue, vivid green, deep red. It was one of the only points during the show where the lights were impressive, which bothered me a little bit, because they could have made the mood of each song significantly easier to establish if the light show had been given more thought. Not that it mattered too much to me – it was better than ones I’ve seen at most shows. Every other MOF song played was great, but The Sandman, The Brakeman, and Me, and His Master’s Voice are two more that stand strong in my mind. The vocals were flawless and beautiful, just as I had expected they would be.

I was not completely familiar with much of M. Ward’s music, and was pleased to discover that it was incredibly easy to get into and appreciate. Staring intently at his fingers as he picked like a pro, I realized that it was some of the most impressive guitar playing I’ve ever seen live.

Conor Oberst’s lyrics and clearly evident song writing skills, the soaring vocals of Jim James, the guitar playing of M. Ward, Mike Mogis’s modest accompaniment of all three on multiple instruments, and most of all, their ability to combine several genres of many projects originally performed with completely different people, all on one stage in one set, made it a show to be remembered forever.

Advertisements

Monsters of Folk

September 14, 2009

When I heard Conor Oberst, Jim James, Mike Mogis, and M. Ward had formed a band together, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first. My initial assumption was that it would be the perfect collaboration, since Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and M. Ward have all created music that I love. However, then a friend got me thinking that maybe their music would be better kept separate; Maybe the end product of such different musicians teaming up wouldn’t be as incredible as we all anticipated?

After finally hearing the album today, I have to say that my first prediction was right on; I was wrong to ever doubt them. The vocal harmonies are some of the best I’ve heard since Fleet Foxes’ self-titled. Conor’s uniquely rough voice compliments the more gentle vocals of the others, creating an absolutely beautiful sound.

The album has no favored influence; You can hear elements of each musician’s other projects combined in every track.

Check them out.

Monsters of Folk – Temazcal
Monsters of Folk – Sandman, the Brakeman and Me

monsters-of-folk