Newport Folk Festival: My Morning Jacket

So the rain cut My Morning Jacket off about ten minutes before their set was scheduled to end, but look at the bright side: Newport folks still got in an entire day of great music, and the weather only turned sour with minutes to go till the end of the day. And My Morning Jacket still packed in a solid set, loaded with guest cameos from Ben Sollee (who was all over the festival grounds today) to Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes to Conor Oberst.

Festival-goers had packed onto the main lawn for Saturday’s final act, and the first thing to come from the stage was a few moments of ambient noise before the Louisville, Kentucky rock band transitioned into “Welcome Home.” Frontman Jim James was decked out in a seersucker suit with flowers in his breast-pocket, and the rest of the band members were similarly dressed, giving the whole gig a dapper air.

The band went on to play “Golden” and “The Way That He Sings”, and during two consecutive song breaks, James bellowed a “HELLO!” to the crowd before starting another song without any further conversation. While they were wholehearted “hello’s”, it wouldn’t have hurt to make some small talk with the audience, but it seems that My Morning Jacket were not only going for a dapper look, but a mysterious one as well.

The beginning of the set was far more laid-back than what I remember from their stage at Austin City Limits this past September, where there was a psychedelic light show and an inescapable wall of noise. This time around, however, the band obviously had to adjust their act to the occasion, which calls for a bit more of a stripped-down approach in their case. A few songs in, though, the band got the crowd movin’ and shakin’ once they made the mood a little more funky. The band blazed through “Bermuda Highway”, and “Victory Dance”, among others, and ended with “I’m Amazed” when the weather began to interfere. Despite the abrupt inconvenience, MMJ closed out the evening with healthy levels of roots rock and eccentricity.

By Sarah Ruggiero

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