Monsters of Folk Play the Greek Theatre
God bless the American folk super group Monsters of Folk, the Pangaea of a group took last Sunday to teach the audience at the Greek Theatre what a real folk show is.
There was no hesitation, no waiting, no build up. The Monsters of Folk wasted no time showcasing their immense talents. As the lights dimmed, guitars where strummed and plucked and M. Ward began to sing "Say Please" from a vintage piano, the second single off the bands new album.
Conor Oberst carried the song along playing guitar, and singing with venomous anger in true Oberst fashion. The collection of folk monsters all dawned dapper suits and handsomely charmed the crowd with their appearance along with their melodies.
The Monsters of Folk are an American super-group comprised of four folk super stars. Headlined by Nebraska based artists Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from the band Bright Eyes, Oregon hailing M.Ward a solo artist and partner to Zooey Deschanel in the duo She & Him and Jim James also known as Yim Yames a Kentucky based rocker from the band My Morning Jacket.
While touring together five years ago the four artists built a camaraderie of contrast and experimental interest for each others music that led to a drama free, free flowing environment for ideas to grow and become something uniquely magical. Yet all the band members had their respective bands to tend to so devotion to the experimental group was out of the question. Fast forward five years to a place and time where they could all devote themselves and you have the self titled album "Monsters of Folk"
Although they titled themselves the Monsters of Folk, the name is deceiving. With synthesizers, M. Ward ripping electric guitar riffs and steel drums, the Monsters of Folk are a mixture of country, blues, easy going rock and a little hard rock. According to the band's website the band title is deliberately off kilter so as to dash expectations from the get go.
"Folk Shows can be confusing sometimes," Jim James said to the crowd "Sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's quiet and sometimes you don't know what to do!"
This show was like nothing done before of Monsters of Folk. There was no opening act but the structure was like nothing seen before. After a few songs off the Monsters of Folk album were sung, the stage was swept clear and a spot light shown only on one artist. This artist then proceeded to sing tracks from his respective band.
Conor Oberst sang a total of six Bright Eyes songs. Including "We are Nowhere" and "It's Now, Lime Tree," "Hit the Switch," "Another Travelin' Song," "The Big Picture," and "At the Bottom of Everything" which all the band members helped sing. M. Ward Played songs off his new album "Hold Time" including "One Hundred Million Years." Jim James also played his song "Golden" from his band My Morning Jacket.
"I love you Conor" yelled a female audience member as Oberst amazed as usual with his intense, timeless and never changing voice. His core fans sang along word for word as he dusted off Bright Eyes tracks which contradicted statements made in interviews that quoted him saying he no longer wanted to be associated with Bright Eyes.
M.Ward is a one-man band. Endless talent as he plays one guitar and makes it sound like three. Strumming chords, finger plucking scales and playing tabs.,M. Ward made it sound as if there was a drummer behind him in the dark.
Jim James is a complete contradiction of his appearance, such a big man with such an angelic voice. His voice touched the heart of the entire audience and melted the shocked hearts of those who were unaware of the versatility of his voice. Yet the more obscure artist suffered a bit as many got up disrespectfully during his songs to tend to their hunger or buy merchandise.
"The audience is made up of different fan bases. A lot of people are here for Conor and Bright Eyes and a lot for M.Ward and Jim James. I'm here for Conor and Bright Eyes and of course I would love to hear more but we have to remember that they are now a group and we have to forget for a little while our love of their other projects," said Bobby Gilliam a 23-year-old fan.
A highlight of the night was the performance of their song "Man Named Truth" in which the entire band finger plucked their guitars to different scales simultaneously to create a penetrating sound. A real folk song with enough power to make the hairs on your arms stand. Talented Jim James used his voice as an instrument to "ooo" hauntingly in the background as if a cold wind blew. M.Ward added accented Oberst's intense angered singing with an intense electric guitar solo adding dimension to this not all folk band. A ghost of a song that resonated