I had no idea what to expect heading into the My Morning Jacket/Band of Horses show last night in Philly. It was the tail end of a long week of vacation, I hadn’t slept in my own bed for days and I’m not sure but there might have been something funny in my brownie. Anyone familiar with MMJ knows their following is nearing cult status. People who missed the Phish boat a few years ago have turned to the Jacket as a new pipeline into the extreme world of fandom.
The band does not fuck around. None. Not one bit. Even at their most entertaining and freewheeling, Jim James and Co. refuse to show the slightest sign of weakness, approaching each buildup and monster close out like a southern-fuzzed out E-Street Band. James rattled the cage on every song, driving his band down awkward, feedback drenched alleys full of heavy solos and jittery dance moves only to bring things back together like a masterpiece of scattered Jackson Pollack size proportions.
The weird and wonderful part of last night’s show was the crowd. A healthy mix of rockers, hipsters and aging music fans filled Philly’s Mann Center, but the shining jewel was the inevitable frat boy contingency. Backwards hats, popped Polo collars and unbuttoned oxfords peppered the center like an unsanctioned GOP tailgate gala. The “FUCK YEAHS” and “MY FUCKING MORNING JACKET’s” rained down between every song, the spaces between the cheers filled by dance moves usually shared around a keg on graduation day. Man love was in the air in Philadelphia last night.
The set was raucous and fun. The band ripped through hits from each of it’s albums. Highlights included the bouncy “Mahgeetah” and the playful “Outta My System”, a tune James originally penned for the Muppets soundtrack. The singalongs were massive and hips swayed far too frequently. If My Morning Jacket is the new Dave Matthews Band, I’m unsure where they’re headed next.
All I know is I could have used ten more beers and another brownie or two in order to channel my inner bro. Even without my participation in the dance fest, MMJ brought the house down as the rain slammed the amphitheater from every direction, sending the outside patrons streaming into the aisles for a place to keep dry and some room to shake it. Last observation? Phillies fans don’t wash their hands and I’m happy to be back in the greatest state in the land.