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Crunching a slow roll over inches of packed snow, we crept up I-84 and wondered what could possibly lure anyone else out into Saturday‚??s northeastern tundra. We coasted through the picturesque snowscape, dotted by the occasional abandoned vehicle in a snowdrift, toward the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., for the final night of a three-show run. We turned up the iPod and debated My Morning Jacket songs to request via the band‚??s Spontaneous Curation Series on Twitter. By the time we cautiously trundled into town, we had heard much of the Kentucky quintet‚??s discography, from their first studio album, ‚??The Tennessee Fire,‚?Ě released in 1999, to 2011‚??s ‚??Circuital.‚?Ě
The recently remodeled Capitol Theatre, est. 1926, nests amongst Port Chester‚??s quaint storefronts and inviting Latin restaurants. We discovered a bakery run by a charming Uruguayan couple, ordered our empanadas in Spanglish, and watched a soccer match with the couple while waiting for the box office to open. Members of Roll Call, MMJ‚??s fan club, already stood outside discussing set lists from the previous nights. The eclectic crowd ranged from newcomer students on break to middle-aged fanatics recounting legendary shows.
My Morning Jacket played a new set each night at the Capitol ‚?? no repeats ‚?? and featured a different opening band ‚?? Deer Tick on Dec. 27, Antibalas on Dec. 28, and Floating Action on Dec. 29. The latter, a five-piece touring band fronted by Seth Kauffman, also braved the northeastern roads. Kauffman, who records most of Floating Action‚??s records in his North Carolina studio, travels with bassist Mark Capon, drummers Josh Carpenter and Evan Martin, and guitarist/keyboardist Brian Landrum. Floating Action recently released their latest album, ‚??Fake Blood,‚?Ě on Jim James‚??s own Removador Recordings and Solutions.
Floating Action played songs spanning their discography, including ‚??Fake Blood‚?Ě highlights, a reverby ‚??Matador,‚?Ě an up-tempo ‚??Seized‚?Ě featuring male harmonies, and an electric ‚??No Waves.‚?Ě During ‚??Cinder Cone,‚?Ě off FA‚??s self-titled album, Jim James entered in a cape and police hat to read dialogue from evangelical comic ‚??Spellbound?‚?Ě The typically lo-fi songs were energized by the band, especially the doubly percussive, effervescent ‚??Don‚??t Stop Loving Me Now,‚?Ě also off 2009‚??s ‚??Floating Action.‚?Ě
My Morning Jacket entered the light-strung stage to dreamy tunes and wild applause. The crowd clapped in time to the early chords of ‚??Circuital,‚?Ě the title track off MMJ‚??s latest LP, singing in time to bright, pulsing stage lights. Tom Blankenship played a steady bassline, followed by a dapper Bo Koster on keys. Carl Broemel didn‚??t wait long for his first guitar solo of the night. Soon drummer Patrick Hallahan and singer/guitarist Jim James were bent over their respective instruments, swinging their untamed manes.
Red light flooded the stage and a sea of shadowy hands reached for the domed ceiling during ‚??Evil Urges‚?Ě off the 2008 album of the same name. The previous evening‚??s opening act, Antibalas, joined MMJ on a few songs with a kaleidoscopic horn section. Hallahan led the way to the low-end heavy ‚??Lay Low‚?Ě off 2005‚??s ‚??Z,‚?Ě with soulful mumbling and an aerial leap from James ‚?? his sunset-striped royal blue cape catching air ‚?? during blazing guitar work. Feedback fed into the up-tempo ‚??Anytime,‚?Ě also off ‚??Z.‚?Ě
‚??War Begun,‚?Ě a mere three minutes and seven seconds on their debut album, was jammed out to over nine minutes of soulfully bellowing rock. James slid his hand up and down the neck ‚??til his guitar moaned into a fit of reverb in ‚??I Will Sing You Songs‚?Ě from 2003‚??s ‚??It Still Moves.‚?Ě ‚??Honest Man,‚?Ě off the 2001 album ‚??At Dawn,‚?Ě boasted drawn-out, smoky chords and a solo by bassist Blankenship. MMJ buzzed into a high energy ‚??Aluminum Park,‚?Ě with James tossing his cape in favor of an impromptou dance, which he continued in and out of his downstage spotlight through the next song, ‚??Slow, Slow Tune,‚?Ě followed by a twangy ‚??Where to Begin.‚?Ě
MMJ then kicked off a fierce set of favorites, including a resonating ‚??Master Plan,‚?Ě a bouncy, passionate ‚??O is the One That is Real,‚?Ě a playful ‚??What a Wonderful Man,‚?Ě a helping of horns and Hallahan‚??s drum-kit dance on ‚??Easy Morning Rebel,‚?Ě and an aching opening chord, followed by staccato vox, gritty instrumentals, and all kinds of choreography on ‚??Run Thru.‚?Ě
During ‚??Moving Away,‚?Ě James spun ‚?? his glowing synth machine swinging from his neck, as if chasing his cape ‚?? through a waltz to slowly growing reverb. James mused, ‚??Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, whether you came here one night, two nights, or all three nights‚?¶ It really means a lot to us when you guys come to see us play‚?¶ It makes our wildest fantasies come true; and in‚??nit a great feeling?‚?Ě James then cooed an acoustic ‚??I Will Be There When You Die‚?Ě off ‚??The Tennessee Fire.‚?Ě
MMJ‚??s spectacular encore performance included 2011‚??s ‚??Victory Dance,‚?Ě heightened by the dramatic delivery of James‚??s vocals and a breathy instrumental cacophony piqued by the horns. ‚??Touch Me I‚??m Going to Scream Pt. 1‚?Ě shimmered with falsetto and James‚??s playful pawing. The Capitol echoed the anthemic lines, ‚??We are the innovators / they are the imitators,‚?Ě from ‚??Z‚?Ě classic ‚??Wordless Chorus,‚?Ě as they were hissed from the theatrical lips of Jim James. While the final song, ‚??One Big Holiday,‚?Ě was received with hysteric electricity ‚?? the most exciting encore song of the night was undoubtedly their cover of Lionel Richie‚??s ‚??80s island jam, ‚??All Night Long.‚?Ě
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