My Morning Jacket & Delta Spirit @ Verizon Wireless Theater
This past Thursday, two of BOT’s favorite bands made their way to Houston’s Verizon Wireless Theater for a three and a half hour performance. We made it there just in time for the beginning of Delta Spirit, and had no problem rocking out all the way through My Morning Jacket‘s final notes of the evening.
Read all about the show and check out a whole bunch of photos after the jump!
Words and Photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker
We had the opportunity to catch both bands at Austin City Limits Music Festival just a few months ago, but due to arriving late we missed mostly all of Delta Spirit, and due to Stevie Wonder, we missed mostly all of My Morning Jacket. The day after ACL ended, they were nice enough to announce a short tour together, one that just happened to roll through my hometown. I was a happy guy. Going into the show, I was even happier.
Delta Spirit started right at 7:30, an earlier than usual showcase due to MMJ continually stretching their sets to the point of no return and them dealing with a 11pm curfew at the venue. Arriving just a few minutes late, I missed their first tune, and made it to the photo pit just in time for the second. They already had a certain swagger about them, especially the semi-intoxicated frontman Matt Vasquez. Vasquez, who has a fair share of Houston ties, always is a sight to see. He is the epitome of what a frontman should be, and with humor and a keen sense of words and phrasing, he carries the parts in between each of their songs. The songs, though, they speak for themselves.
I’m not sure what was played to open the set, but I did have the chance to hear them rip through an hour of tracks including “Bushwick Blues,” “Devil Knows You’re Dead” and “White Table” from their latest LP, 2010’s History From Below. 2008’s Ode To Sunshine was also featured with “People C’mon,” “Trashcan” and a set closing version of “People, Turn Around” that featured percussion and vocal help from their friends The Fling, a band that had a show of their own across town at Fitzgerald’s later that night. Also, joining the fray earlier in the set was Patrick Hallahan, drummer for headliners My Morning Jacket, who took to a pair of sticks early to help make “White Table” a bit more raucous than usual. While Vasquez had a hard time remembering the lyrics to a song or two, it made the set all that much more special as it brought a bit of humor to the table rather than the same old thing. While I didn’t get to hear some of the other songs I love due to a shortened set, they sounded great from start to finish and were the perfect appetizer for the ensuing act
After about a 25 minute break, we headed back inside for what was sure to be one of the best sets of live music all year. I headed into the photo pit just in time for the lights to dim and house music to turn off. Within seconds, the crowd was flooded with the Louisville rock quintets first few notes of the opening track from their latest LP Circuital, “Victory Dance,” just as they had done at ACL a few months ago. “Circuital” followed seamlessly and fed into Z‘s first offering, “It Beats For You.” I made my way out of the pit while one of my favorites off the new album, “First Light,” had begun. After a stop at the bar, and a necessary restroom break, I made it back just in time for the beginning of “I’m Amazed” from 2008’s Evil Urges, a song they played for the first time ever three years ago at the exact same venue.
Right around this time, MMJ seemed to have turned on a switch and were all of the sudden in monster mode. They were killing it before, but from there on out in the set they absolutely destroyed it. Another of my favorite of the new tracks, “Outta My System,” came next and was book-ended by a gorgeous take on “Wonderful,” that showcased front man Jim James’ unparallelled falsetto. “You Wanna Freak Out,” which could easily be a b-side to either Z or It Still Moves, came next and was met with some of the greatest crowd reaction yet. Stepping back to their very first album with a short but sweet take on “War Begun,” they proved to their true blue fans that they still have a grasp on their entire repertoire rather than just the new stuff. A My Morning Jacket show would never be the same if “Off The Record” wasn’t visited, and rather playing it in their first couple of songs like I’ve always seen in the past, they put it right at that pivotal point in the set where you know they only have a few more solid songs left before encore and you don’t want to miss a thing.
I got a sneak peak at the setlist while in the photo pit, saw the word phone, and knew I was in for a treat. “Phone Went West” has been one of my favorite MMJ tunes for quite some time, and I’ve been lucky enough to see it a handful of times now. Even though I knew it was coming, I was like a kid on a snow day when they busted into the opening chords. After annoying everyone in a North Face jacket around me by shouting (literally, shouting) each and every lyric, I decided to go grab a beer and get situated in a new spot with non-annoyed non-North-Faced people.
“Smoking From Shooting” was just finishing up as we got back from our beer run, and it was immediately thrown into a frenzy as they launched into the end of “Run Thru” from It Still Moves. After rocking out, the dance party and unmatched climax of the show came with “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2.” A song that started of a bit unconventional, but turns into a Prince-like melee heavy on the guitars and the beats, the song rocked out for over ten minutes of pure glory. Closing out the set with one of their best songs, and arguably one of the best songs ever written, “Gideon” brought the whole set together.
Coming back quickly, knowing they only had about twenty more minutes to work with, they started “Wordless Chorus” to the delight of many (specifically the members of my group at the time). “The Day Is Coming” was somewhat of an odd fit in the encore slot, but was good to hear, and fed right into “Holdin’ On To Black Metal,” their current radio hit. The show closed out with an extended jammy version of “One Big Holiday” which left me grinning from ear to ear. It was one of the better MMJ shows I’ve seen, and easily ranked towards the top of my 2011 show list. I was bummed they had to cut “Dondante” due to time constraints, but the rest of the show more than made up for it. These guys are getting much bigger, and it wont be long before we will be seeing them at venues such as the Pavilion and Toyota Center, so to have the opportunity to catch them as close as we did at Verizon is a treat.
Check out a bunch of pictures from the show!