My Morning Jacket @ Williamsburg Park – August 19
Words: Brian Bavosa
Photos: Jeremy Gordon
This past Sunday night, My Morning Jacket delivered a two-and-a-half hour, energetic performance laced with their high-energy rockers, a dash of jamming and even a few rarities at Williamsburg Park in Brooklyn. The venue has replaced the old Williamsburg Waterfront, which had hosted concerts since The Pool at nearby McCarren Park was turned back into a pool. At this new venue, the stage is close to the East River, but tucked in between some warehouses, only allowing the fans in the way back of Williamsburg Park to sneak a peek at the iconic Manhattan skyline. While the change in orientation between the old Williamsburg Waterfront and this new Williamsburg Park was the most glaring difference, the new setup also allowed fans to roam around with relative ease and grab beer or wine without being stuck in a drinking section,which was an issue at the old venue. But the biggest difference I noticed was the sound, which on Sunday was clear and loud from just about anywhere I wandered throughout the evening.
[Photos by Jeremy Gordon]
The large venue in Brooklyn seemed at about 60% capacity or so, which contributed to the loose, Sunday evening vibe and was a far cry from the last time MMJ played in Brooklyn in 2002, only a few blocks away at the tiny, now-defunct club, North Six. The last handful of times I had seen MMJ (save the very intimate VH1 Storytellers experience) the Louisville rockers had played much of the same setlist at each show. However, Sunday’s gig was part of their Spontaneous Curation series in which the band pepper each setlist with fan requests and resulted in a different flow and added a fresh element to the show that worked quite well.
The early portion of MMJ’s set featured crowd favorites and repertoire staples Gideon, Mahgeetah and Dondante, the latter of which had a little extra flair to it and certainly set the tone for the rest of the rocking evening. As complete darkness fell upon Brooklyn, fittingly after a The Dark opener, it was clear that the Kentucky natives were mixing things up. MMJ embraced the setting and gained steam as the show chugged along. The band really started to go for it with a raucous, screaming take on the Circuital track Holdin’ On To Black Metal, an absolute slam-bang-fist-pounder that provided one of the evening’s peaks.
The second half of the show saw some other numbers that captured some of the strengths of MMJ: solid songwriting and a tender, infectious angle of sorts, performed with a ferocious attack. One great example of this was Phone Went West, which is a bubbly, bouncy number at the start before frontman Jim James and Co. take a sharper edge as the front man strums his electric guitar and flails around the stage in his patented, shuffling manner. Throughout the end of the show, MMJ also incorporated a stellar lighting arrangement, which saw the lights not only illuminate the band in whites, blues and reds, but also pointed upwards to the sky many times and through the fog from the stage, seemingly into the heavens, like the Freedom Tower off in the distance.
For the extended encore, James played a solo acoustic version of I Will Be There When You Die, before the band welcomed out Dean Wareham of Luna for another take on George Harrison’s Isn’t It A Pity, which was a highlight for me considering Wareham’s place in NYC’s musical history. Next, for the first time in almost two years, My Morning Jacket busted out a cover of Prince’s I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, and delivered an exceptional take, before a few more tunes and the obligatory One Big Holiday, MMJ’s signature number and biggest rocker, closed out a beautiful night in Williamsburg.
Set: The Dark, Outta My System, Circuital, Gideon, Lay Low, Mahgeetah, Dondante, War Begun, It’s About Twilight Now, Run Thru, Off the Record, Holdin’ On To Black Metal, Phone Went West, Smokin’ From Shootin’, Touch ME I’m Going to Scream Pt 2 > Good Intentions
Encore: I Will Be There When You Die (Yim Yames solo acoustic), Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison – with Dean Wareham of Luna), I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Prince), Victory Dance, Wordless Chorus, One Big Holiday
[via Live Music Blog]