My Morning Jacket: Plaidapalooza

My Morning Jacket
Fox Theater
Oakland, CA
June 24, 2011

My Morning Jacket: Plaidapalooza

Friday night at the Fox Theater was a sea of plaid. There was a veritable plethora of plaid, a ubiquitous statement of indie plaid style. Somehow, I had missed the memo and felt a little out of place with my plain solid blue shirt. I was also feeling the after-effects of a Sushi-coma when I arrived at the Fox. Nevertheless, I got swept up in the lively atmosphere of the sold-out crowd. After wisely positioning ourselves behind the US Olympic volleyball team, it was only a short wait until MMJ took the stage to the rapturous delight of the volleyball team and the adoring plaid fans.

I was half-expecting the band to be adorning Tartan kilts, but lead singer Jim James compensated for his criminal lack of plaid with a Grizzly Adams beard which properly established his and the band's indie bona fides. During the past 12 years, the Jacket has been slowly building their plaid audience with solid albums and solid performances with Jimmy J at the helm. JJ Is definitely the creative force and the star of the MyMJ show though he can tend toward the self-conscious 'Artist' - singing with a blue towel over his face or donning a cape as he did for the encore on Friday night. Still, his talent and MMJ's musical chops are undeniable.

I would say that this is a band destined for even bigger things but I fear that they may have plateaued, albeit at a substantial plateau. Despite recent fawning reviews, I found that the songs blurred together. Nearly every song is a mid-tempo anthem of U2-proportions. Each song is individually great but, as a collection, became less impressive. MMJ does arrange a nice set list that patiently builds throughout the evening, each song building on the previous and each crescendo more than the last. And the band occasionally jams during a song which was very welcome.

So, the concert was quite a lot of fun and I am glad that I went - partly because they performed a great version of "I'm Amazed," my favorite MMJ song. I also enjoyed the M. Ward cameo- a folkie singer-songwriter who is another critic darling- although I felt his ballad interrupted the concert's momentum. Nevertheless, on the morning after, I feel like the show and the band, despite the obvious quality, are still a work in progress that MMJ has not yet achieved their lofty potential or their lofty pretensions.

Final Photo: Award winning photographer Joe Santel

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