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Coachella Day Three: My Morning Back Pain

Mmj Jaded Insider limped into Day 3 of Coachella 2008, with our feet and lower backs still reeling from 48 hours worth of desert festival hardship. But our spirits were not broken.

Kentucky Fried Music: We were looking forward to seeing My Morning Jacket as much as anything at the festival, and are thrilled to know that the Louisville five-piece delivered in spades. From the opening notes of “One Big Holiday,” the band worked the stage with authority. Singer/guitarist Jim James frequently dashed from one side of the stage to the other, his huge black-and-white moon boots propelling him with every step. The group’s passion was palpable and undeniable. MMJ was then joined by M. Ward for “Off the Record,” a sprawling, reggae-tinged jam that borrows its main riff from the theme to “Hawaii Five-O.”

“I’m Amazed” from the band’s upcoming LP “Evil Urges” (due June 10th) kept the heat on, with a memorable guitar riff and excellent Fender Rhodes touches from keyboardist Bo Koster. Other “Evil” tracks previewed included “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 1)," the funky, robotic “Highly Suspicious,” the Chi-Lites-quoting “Smokin from Shootin,” and current single “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream (Part 2)," which closed the show. “Wordless Chorus, ” “Anytime, and “Gideon” from 2005’s “Z” also rang out triumphantly as the sun set on the festival’s final day. With the breadth and depth of this set -- and the promise of their forthcoming fifth studio album fulfilled -- it’s safe to say that My Morning Jacket stands as one of best, if not the best band in America today. James has always been a great songwriter, but the group’s live dynamic is continuing to gel in an even more impressive fashion underneath his songs.

Their willingness to incorporate non-traditional sounds (and effectively weave them into memorable melodic compositions) lends them the creative heft that separates them from many of their contemporaries and lifts their music above the familiar constraints of genres such as indie or Southern rock. We expect that this band’s creative trajectory is still on the rise, and are sure that they will continue to win over listeners along the way.

Look But Don't Listen: One of the most unnecessarily frustrating sets of the weekend came courtesy of Spiritualized. The band’s performance was plagued by a multitude of sound problems throughout, most obviously the nearly constant feedback emanating from frontman Jason Pierce’s acoustic guitar. Accompanied by three harmonists, Fender Rhodes and a string quartet, Pierce could have turned it into a stunner. Sadly, the string section inexplicably remained inaudible for the entirety of the set. In fact, the members of the quartet did not appear to be mic’ed at all. Fortunately, several of the musicians were easy enough on the eyes to somewhat mitigate the sonic incongruity. (Dark haired violinist: we can’t hear a note you’re playing, but you sure are pretty.) “Lord Let It Rain On Me” from 2003’s “Amazing Grace” and the Daniel Johnston cover “True Love Will Find You” rose above the fray. “Amen” and “Going Down Slow” were also attempted, as was “Soul on Fire,” the lead single from forthcoming LP “Songs in A&E.” We’d love to hear how this was supposed to sound, and would gladly give it another chance under more conducive circumstances.

Never Lost That Feeling: The members of Swervedriver took the stage looking like the guests of honor at a poorly attended surprise birthday party. Their looks of disappointment upon seeing the mostly-empty Mojave Tent were evident, but the group soldiered on undaunted, opening with “Sandblasted” from 1991’s “Raise.” They were damn tight though, despite having not played together for nearly 10 years. And although physically they may have looked their age, the youthful rockers inside of them were totally taking over as they roared through an almost unbearably loud survey of their catalog. “The Birds” from 1995’s import-only “Ejector Seat Reservation,” “Dual” from 1993’s Mezcal Head,” and “These Times” from 1998’s “99th Dream” followed in succession, with each tune sounding better than the last.

Singer/guitarist Adam Franklin, never one to exhibit perfect pitch live, emoted more than crooned and effectively transmitted the heart and soul of each song to the assembled devotees. Drummer Jez seemed thrilled to be back behind the kit, punishing his cymbals and shooting the audience demented, bug-eyed glance during “Last Train to Satansville.” While the band revealed some of the limitations that prevented it from reaching the lofty heights of Creation label-mates like Oasis, they nonetheless demonstrated a resiliency and unapologetic, no-frills rawness that one couldn’t help but admire.

April 28, 2008 in Coachella | Permalink


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MMJ was great, awesome weekend out on the polo fields.

Posted by: matt | Apr 28, 2008 2:50:33 PM

Posted by: venom-1 | Apr 29, 2008 12:42:15 AM

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