My Morning Jacket | 08.25.08 | Austin

Words by: Adam Kaye | Images by: Scott Newton

My Morning Jacket :: 08.25.08 :: KLRU Studios :: Austin, TX

MMJ :: 08.25 :: ACL Taping :: Austin, TX
In 2006, Louisville, Kentucky's My Morning Jacket joined an elite group of musicians when they taped their first appearance on the long-running public television program, Austin City Limits. A little over a week ago, they joined an even more elite group who have appeared on the show more than once.

The fact that they were invited back so quickly is a reflection of their ridiculously rapid growth. As the producer of the show explained while introducing the band, after hearing their most recent release, Evil Urges (read the review here), he was shocked to hear how far the band had progressed since their last appearance and he just had to have them back as soon as possible.

Attending a taping of Austin City Limits is always a great experience, which is a reflection of the hospitality extended by the staff and volunteers that produce the show. They go to great lengths to make the artists comfortable, and it shows in the performances, but it's not easy to be a member of the audience. Most of those in attendance are there because they have a connection of some sort, though some pay their way in by making a generous donation to the station, and this night was no exception. Average Joes can call the ACL hotline, then listen to a specific radio station for a ticket-giveaway announcement, race to the location of the giveaway, and hope to be there in time to get a pass, which still doesn't guarantee admission.

On this night, after standing in line outside of the building that houses the studio and riding the oversized elevator to the sixth floor of the Communications Building on the University of Texas's campus, attendees stepped into the foyer outside the studio and were instantly transported to some sort of concert fantasyland. The hall was filled with artificial smoke, and there were tables covered with free cups of beer with volunteers encouraging people to take two if they'd like.

My Morning Jacket's performance was great, but it was clear from the start that this was a TV show taping as opposed to a concert like they had played at Stubb's BBQ the night before. At Stubb's, they played for close to three hours, non-stop, focusing on more rocking material and repeatedly opening up songs for extended jams. For ACL, they seemed to choose a setlist with more slow tunes, presumably because they'll make for a more compelling TV show. The playing was still inspired, but the majority of the set didn't seem to have the same energy as the night before.

MMJ :: 08.25 :: ACL Taping :: Austin, TX
MMJ's catalog is so diverse, and they did a good job of showcasing this fact even though two-thirds of the set came from the new album. Many recognize this diversity as a product of the advanced technical abilities of the musicians and welcome the opportunity to see a country-sounding ballad sandwiched between a Springsteen-esque rocker and a techno-rave dance tune. On the other hand, some concertgoers might attend a show hoping to hear a particular song that they heard on the radio, or certain tracks from a different era, and they could end up being disappointed by MMJ's willful ranging about.

While lead singer-guitarist Jim James is obviously the heart of the band, drummer Patrick Hallahan is literally and figuratively the center of My Morning Jacket. It's Hallahan's ability to play such a wide range of styles that allows the band to cover dramatically diverse territory from one song to the next, even within a single song. As the band waited to take the stage, he could be seen jumping up and down backstage, primed to unleash for a TV audience far larger than any normal concert performance. The band watched Hallahan, and the crowd couldn't help but watch James, who moved around the stage like a young child in need of his Ritalin.

They opened with six of the first seven tracks off of Evil Urges, including the reggae-tinged title track, the anthemic "I'm Amazed" (with a scorching guitar solo from multi-instrumentalist Carl Broemel) and beautiful three-part harmonies on "Thank You Too!," "Sec Walkin" and "Two Halves." As the set progressed, Broemel played a few songs on the lap steel guitar and saxophone, and James took a couple turns with his acoustic guitar. Keyboardist Bo Coster shined brightest during "Highly Suspicious" and the set-closing "Steam Engine," and bassist "Two Tone Tommy" Blankenship was reliably steady throughout.

While the majority of the set felt considerably slower than the Stubb's show, none of it was uninteresting. It simply felt as if it was geared for the circumstances. The playing was precise and focused, though it must have been difficult restraining themselves because it's obvious they enjoy letting it all hang out, as they displayed for the two-song encore.

"Aluminum Park" began with an early Springsteen feel and patiently built until the band couldn't hold back any longer and unleashed a rippin' guitar solo while James wailed. Fan favorite "One Big Holiday" from 2003's It Still Moves was a perfect, rocking closer – the band surrounding Hallahan, jumping around and falling to their knees. It seemed as if they had agreed that they spent enough time holding back and were going to squeeze as much freaking out as possible into this final tune.

As a result, the audience left satisfied as they filed out of the Communications Building and back into the real world, happy to know that rock & roll is alive - if you know where to look.

08.25.08 - ACL Taping :: KLRU Studios :: Austin, TX
Evil Urges, Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 1, I'm Amazed, Thank You Too!, Sec Walkin, Two Halves, War Begun, Librarian, Look at You, Smokin from Shootin, Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2, Nashville to Kentucky, Just One Thing, Wordless Chorus, Highly Suspicious, Cobra, Steam Engine
Encore: Aluminum Park, One Big Holiday

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Muffinman1 Tue 9/2/2008 02:19PM
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seeing them tomorrow in DC for my first time. And I got my NYE tix, I can't wait.

Flat5 starstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 02:40PM
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Just saw them at Red Rocks, and it was a quality night of music. You cant go wrong when you have a vocalist that good in the band, and the drummer rocks too, so by the time you get to the guitar solos the guy can pretty much rip whatever he wants and it sounds good. Towards the end I saw waves of people leave cuz they were playing a lot of slow stuff, but that could have just been in my section, and it was a weeknight too.

Great article, btw, that was cool about how the ACL tapings go down.

NittyGritty Tue 9/2/2008 03:01PM
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Best show i've seen in a really long time in Dallas. Erykah Badu came out and help sang Tyrone. Her voice literally gave me goosebumps. One song that i didnt like on their new album but was badass live was Highly Suspicious. It definitely has a different feel to it live. If you haven't seen them, i suggest you do.....looking forward to new years!

redhed starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 03:07PM
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when can i see this taping?

iwantstogetfunkedup Tue 9/2/2008 03:09PM
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Can't wait for the Greek Theater in Berkeley! My favorite venue of all-time and I'm sure MMJ will do it justice.

sschaffner Tue 9/2/2008 03:24PM
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soooo, are you(adam) referring to the live version of I'm Amazed that had a reggae-tinged feel? very curious because the studio cut has not even the slightest hint of anything reggae, and they pretty much played it 'as is' at red rocks (only way more kick ass, much like the rest of the show).

Muffinman1 Tue 9/2/2008 03:36PM
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I was wondering the same thing sschaffner. I wonder if he might be thinking of "off the record" from Z because that is the only "reggae-tinged" song that I could think of. Although I don't think I would label it in that term.

mcarroll Tue 9/2/2008 04:07PM
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It says "reggae-tinged title track" which I guess I can kind of see during the verses of Evil Urges.

Mark Price former NBA star Tue 9/2/2008 04:09PM
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Mark Price former NBA star

My Morning Jacket is Eaisly the best show anyone will see.

sschaffner Tue 9/2/2008 04:36PM
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hmmmm, i get it. the wording is slightly confusing, but i don't hear it in 'evil urges' either. however, i'm sure we'll hear some reggae influenced tune from them sooner or later. reggae or not MMJ made me teary eyed at red rocks. powerful, moving stuff.

crowesfan starstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 04:53PM
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Saw MMJ in Orlando on Saturday night at the House Of Blues and it was my first MMJ show. They were unbelievable. Im trying to get money together now for their NYE show in NYC which will surely be one of the best concerts ever.

JonSoda starstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 05:23PM
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Spent an Evening with My Morning Jacket in Louisville by far best night of the summer.

Lastly memory: “Highly Suspicious” phenomenal live song. Hold on to the easy criticism until seen.

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 05:37PM
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25 more days until Edgefield.. but who's counting?! Can't WAIT!

onthemoon Tue 9/2/2008 06:01PM
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I as well be at DAR tomorrow night for my first MMJ show and am fucking PUMPED

Chaloupka starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 07:17PM
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Yeah, their Red Rocks show was pretty unbelievable. What a great band!

NickSoda starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 07:55PM
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I was really hoping to get a jambase review of the mmj's louisville show. drove all the way from wisconsin for that. one of the best weekends of the summer, and i feel jambase missed a great opportunity. enough tho, mmj melts faces! see you in milwaukee in oct.!

brooklynite84 Wed 9/3/2008 12:23AM
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I can't wait to see these guys again here in AZ, it just sucks that everyone here in this state is like it's senator: clueless! i love the fact that these guys are becoming one of the biggest real rock acts in the business and nobody here even really knows who they are. You gotta give it to the old west for their ignorance...

D.B.Higdon starstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 06:17AM
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Caught them from the front row of the Fox last Wednesday, and it was a fantastic, 2 1/2 hour show. It went from total headbanging to quivering tenderness to 80s style funk within the frame of a couple of songs. I do say 80s style funk because the sound was more like Prince at times than Stevie Wonder.

Beastie2 Wed 9/3/2008 06:59AM
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Saw them at House of Blues Myrtle Beach Sunday night. Well worth the drive from Charlotte. Right up against the stage to see all the action go down. "smokin' from a shootin" was awesome live along with the underappreciated "highly suspicious". They destroyed that song live. If you've never seen them in concert, see them before new years at MSG. The day after that show everyone will know their name (unfortunatly..)

King Rhino starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 07:40AM
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saw the boys at Radio City Music Hall a few months ago and it was mindblowing .... Cannot wait for New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden... You just know they will bring the heat

phanatic2 starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 10:50AM
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First oppurtunity for me to see the band this weekend in Boston, after hearing the live show on the archives I peed my pants im so excited. Maybe I shouldnt drink when I go to see them, :)

haggardphunk starstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 01:07PM
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any ideas on when this will air?

bubbarock Thu 9/4/2008 12:33PM
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Does anyone know when it the ACL show will actually be on t.v.? This saturday?

bubbarock starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 04:08PM
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Well...acording to the ACL/PBS website it will be broadcasted on Nov. 1st.

spinyn Sat 9/6/2008 06:34PM
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The show at Stubb's was awesome! MMJ has a big following in Austin ands the crowd was in the palm of their hands. They delivered the goods big-time!