THE LAST TIME My Morning Jacket played Portland, the front of the Aladdin Theater stage was crammed with fans, none of whom were about to let rows and rows of obstructive seats get in the way of totally flippin' rocking out.
Seriously—just to get to the bathroom, I had to scale a five-foot railing and practically climb over a sea of people all transfixed by the majestic and gloriously bearded Jim James, who had the crowd's unwavering attention as soon as he stepped onto the stage.
This time, MMJ is playing at the Crystal Ballroom, which is far more accommodating to the masses of people the band will undoubtedly draw.
The weird thing, though, is just how much of an anomaly My Morning Jacket is in the current indierock scene. Amid the crowd of genre-jocking pretenders, all of whom obviously spend more time with fashion consultants than writing compelling songs, MMJ stands out for its sheer authenticity. James & Co.'s collectively unassuming, longhaired persona is a massive relief from the style-obsessed, emotionally bereft jackasses shitting up the musical landscape.
(I recognize that this makes me sound like a very old man. "You goddamn kids don't know what real music is! All you listen to is a bunch of bleeps and bloops!" And I'm okay with that. It's the quiet acceptance that comes with aging. Now get off my lawn.)
Over the course of four proper albums, MMJ has evolved from relatively quiet, stripped-down, acoustic-based songs into full bore, charging Southern rock. But along the way, James' basic delivery has remained unchanged. His fragile, reverb-soaked voice still frames stories of heartbreak and loneliness and love and booze, with crackling words that slowly draw your soul out like a string and then shred it with a multiple lead guitar attack à la Lynyrd Skynyrd.
But as powerful as their recorded material is, MMJ's music seriously comes alive onstage, where, buried in an avalanche of hair, this handful of humble dudes from Kentucky become the greatest band on the planet.