Updated: May 3
(Photo Credit: Michael La Torre)
Chaos. Absolute chaos. That's the best word that I can use to describe what it's like to capture the energy of My Morning Jacket's Jim James in a photograph. It's like capturing lightning in a bottle. I found myself hectically trying to review the shots as I went, then I thought "Stop it you idiot. You only have three songs, just keep shooting!" What was three incredible opening songs (Wordless Chorus, Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1, and First Light) felt like fifteen seconds in real time.
I emerged from between the stage and the pit sweating, out of breath, and feeling like my head was spinning. The cause of these feelings was two part. First, the rocket-like nature of Jim James' stage presence and secondly, my admitted admiration for the band that was in front of me. I mean this was My Morning Jacket, it's not every day you get to shoot your favorite band.
For someone who was introduced to this complex alt/rock/psychedelic group from Kentucky while in college (think right around the release of Z). I kept thinking before going to the show that this might be the closure of a musical journey, having never seen the band live. Perhaps it was this thought that I was crossing something off my concert bucket list that built pressure up for me. Perhaps it was the 7 hours I would spend in the car total that day to make it to the show? Maybe it was the fact that I was alone? or maybe it was the fact I had another show to work the next day? who knows? What was clear is that this show felt different in the buildup.
After we finished shooting, I immediately went to see if there were any posters left (yes, I'm a poster collector). Alas, the other collectors had already gobbled them up, so I settled for a t-shirt. I spent the rest of the show as a nomad. I didn't stay in one particular area for long, moving between the lawn and the walkways as the band played some of my favorite songs. I couldn't settle anywhere, not after the view I experienced shooting the band. I also wanted to get a good view of the new Moody Amphitheater as it was my first time in Austin's newest venue.
Fresh off releasing their self titled record this past October and also releasing The Waterfall II in 2020, you would think that the band would logjam the setlist with tracks from those records. That wasn't the case however, as they chose to bring in a mix of old and new tracks, with most of the songs they played coming from Circuital.
They even included a cover of Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" in honor of his birthday (he also just happened to be playing across the street that night). Guests young and old joined James and Co. in honoring Texas' country hero, eagerly singing along to the tune. It was in this moment that I think it further dawned on me why this band is so beloved. They have a signature sound that is unlike anything else out there, but it very much has its roots and history. And the band isn't afraid to pay tribute to those that came before them.
So what did I take away from this experience? First and foremost, I'm grateful to do what I do. Second, My Morning Jacket are truly one of the most genuine bands out there, as they were extremely appreciative of their audience and gave them everything they had playing a little over twenty-two songs. Also, after having reviewed the setlists from the tour, it's abundantly clear you can see the band on any night and you're going to get a unique show. Finally, when you have a chance to do something cool, don't let anything stand in your way because you may just miss out on something amazing.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
21 - Cleveland, OH - Jacobs Pavilion ^
22 - Pittsburgh, PA - Stage AE ^
24 - Louisville, KY - Iroquois Amphitheater **
25 - Louisville, KY - Louisville Waterfront ***
28 - Rochester Hills, MI - Meadow Brook Amphitheatre ^
29 - Columbus, OH - Kemba Live! ^
1 - Madison, WI - Breese Stevens Field ^
2 - Chicago, IL - Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island ^
11 - Seattle, WA - Marymoor Park †
12 - Bend, OR - Hayden Homes Amphitheater †
14 - Palo Alto, CA - Frost Amphitheater †
16 - Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl †
17 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Forever Cemetery †
19 - Taos, NM - Kit Carson Park †
23 - Dillon, CO - Dillon Amphitheater †
24 - Dillon, CO - Dillon Amphitheater †
26 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre †
27 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre †
16 - New Haven, CT - Westville Music Bowl †
19 - Charlottesville, VA - Ting Pavilion †
20 - Wilmington, NC - Live Oak Bank Pavilion †
22 - Asheville, NC - Rabbit Rabbit †
23 - Nashville, TN - Ascend Amphitheater †
24 - Huntsville, AL - Orion Amphitheater †
^ w/Special Guest Indigo de Souza
† w/Special Guest Joy Oladokun
** w/Special Guests River City Drum Corps and Kiana & the Sun Kings
*** w/Special Guests Louisville Leopard Percussionists
and Producing a Kind Generation