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Monday, August 25, 2008

It Still Moves

As I watched My Morning Jacket play for nearly three hours Saturday night, I got to thinking. Not only was I blown away by the band's performance, but I was proud by how the band has stuck around and remained relevant and refreshing all these years later. That might sound all syrupy and cheesy, but I've seen one too many promising bands get derailed in their ascent. I think it's important to single out the ones that don't unravel.

The last time I saw the band live was in 2002 when they opened for Guided by Voices. As odd a pairing as My Morning Jacket and GBV was, I didn't mind. My Morning Jacket was one of those pleasant surprise opening acts, up there with the experiences of seeing Red Animal War and Moonlight Towers for the first time.

My Morning Jacket hasn't gotten screwed by a bad record deal, a bad manager, or a decline in interest by a large audience. Hell, they even overcame the loss of two key members a few years back. Their latest record, Evil Urges, has turned some heads and left some with a bad taste in their mouths, but all of the songs they played from it sounded great and were pretty well-received at the show. I think it's bold for a band to play their latest record in its entirety mixed with fan favorites. Even doing an encore with Erykah Badu on her anthem, "Tyrone," was a risk, but it brought the house down.

I've seen one-too-many promising bands decline in popularity because of a polarizing record. I've never understood the "meh" mindset that usually leads to a complete disowning of a band. Given the rather harsh words about Evil Urges in the press by critics and fans, I was afraid that the savages were closing in on the band. Well, given how well the new songs fit with the older songs, I don't have any doubts about the band's longevity.

When I saw the band back in 2002, they seemed destined for a bigger audience. Something about their unique sound -- blending country and rock in a non-Uncle Tupelo direction -- spoke to me. For whatever reason I skipped out on seeing them live since then (maybe it's because I didn't want to stand on my tippy-toes at the Gypsy Tea Room in hopes I could see the band), but I was glad I went to this show. Definitely one to remember.

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