My Morning Jacket cloaked the Santa Barbara Bowl in righteous sound waves on a recent Sunday. The show opened with a groovy set from the Fruit Bats, which the crowd loved and their expectations for the headliners grew with anticipation. MMJ did not hold back and came prepared to play a two-hour set featuring 17 songs.
They opened with “Steam Engine,” off of their 2003 album It Still Moves, and the song’s lyrics set the tone for the escapism, and that getting lost in the music feeling that is always the goal of the MMJ show. “None of this is physical, at least not to me,” frontman Jim James sang over the dreamy tune. The band then performed several synthed out singles from their newest album, The Waterfall, including “Believe” and “Compound Fracture.” The guitar work on “Believe” has the sound that MMJ fans crave — crunchy distortion is completely original and its grit against the smooth choral backdrop is insanely stimulating.
Throughout the show, the band eased into classic jams like “Gideon,” and “It Beats for You.” The lights kept getting better featuring massive strobe effects during the intense breakdowns and hypnotic watercolor greens and oranges during the chilled out verses. As the band threw themselves into psychedelic improvisations, MMJ ended the set with their fieriest and most danceable songs, “Touch Me I’m Going pt. 2” and then an encore with “Wordless Chorus,” and “Off the Record.” By the end of the show, the enraptured crowd walked, smiled, and talked as if life was simply a dream and we were happy.