My Morning Jacket at The Tower Theater: My First Time Was the Best

Photography by Michael Mauger

You’ll always remember your first time, right? Well, I’ll always remember my first My Morning Jacket show. And, to take an adage from Sam Seaborn from Season 1, Episode 6 of Aaron Sorkin’s hit television drama The West Wing, let’s forget the fact that I’m showing up late to the party and just embrace the fact that I’m showing up at all.

While Thursday night’s sold out WXPN show at the Tower Theater was my first My Morning Jacket experience, resident MMJ expert, Adam Furtado, 28, of Fishtown, was out enjoying his tenth show this year alone. And, that’s about par for the course for My Morning Jacket.

The rock band (and XPN favorite) from Louisville, Kentucky has slowly but surely developed a rabid, and some may even say, cult-like, fan base throughout the country, and even the world. They were one of Saturday night’s sundown headliners at this year’s Bonnaroo, playing a critically-acclaimed show for a crowd somewhere in the ballpark of 100,000 Bonnaroovians. In spite of such major industry achievements and rave reviews, the band has somehow managed to stay off mainstream radio and still seems almost fringe, as evidenced by the fact that Thursday night only sold out the 3,000 capacity Tower Theater just before the start of the show.

While I certainly felt like a bit of an outsider at my first MMJ show, Furtado and his wife Kat, 33, were kind enough to chat with me about life on the inside of the My Morning Jacket Fan Club. The couple has seen MMJ in a number of cities across the continent this year, including Camden, Missoula, Boise, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and even Riviera Maya in Mexico, were two of almost fifty MMJ Fan Club members standing in the Early Entry line in the pouring rain to get spots at the rail. Thursday night was the last general admission show of the tour, so fans from all over (at one point I was introduced to a couple who had traveled all the way from Georgia just for the night’s event) were eager for their last chance to be front and center.

Plenty of the fans knew each other from having toured the country in a pseudo Dead-head-like fashion, and the camaraderie created a sort of “last hurrah” party environment with an unmatched energy that didn’t ebb and flow, but just rose all the way through the encore.

I asked Adam after the show how it compared to his previous MMJ experiences.

“It’s hard to rank MMJ shows because they are so [expletive] good every single night. They don’t have off nights. But they brought it.”

The combination of hits and rarities of last night’s set list is pretty typical for a one-night stand like their lone Philly stop. “‘One Big Holiday,’ ‘Wordless Chorus,’ ‘Off the Record,’ you usually get at every single night show. That’s what the first half of the show felt like,” said Furtado.

While the band peppered in some of the favorites from their latest album, Waterfalls, the apex of the evening was pretty easy to spot. Zach Roumaya, 21, a student at Temple University, agreed with Furtado without hesitation: “Remnants.”

My Morning Jacket has only played the song live eight times. Six times in 2008, once in 2010, and last night, according to Furtado. He suggests playing the song shows the bands real sense of awareness of all the turmoil in the world, citing the lyrics:

“Then I saw a new Heaven

Formed in the bleeding light of dusk.

All souls, all faights

Always we were one.

Raise a bayonet in the dark

For all the human race.

Watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out.

You can go my same way

Taking out the empire

Watching from afar.

It’s not too late, never too late

to make our new fate.”

The reaction of the crowd to the rarely-played tune was hard not to notice. It seemed like a perfect culmination of the evening for everyone there. The Philadelphia crowd sent the band off with a massive ovation, eager for more, grateful it happened, and longing for a return very, very soon.

Check out the setlist and a full photo recap of their set below!

“Victory Dance”

“Evil Urges”

“I’m Amazed”

“Believe (Nobody Knows)”

“In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)”

“Golden”

“Only Memories Remain”

“The Way That He Sings”

“Off the Record”

“Spring (Among the Living)”

“Hopefully”

“Like a River”

“I Think I’m Going to Hell”

“Circuital”

“Tropics (Erase Traces)”

“Masterplan”

“Mahgeetah”

ENCORE

“Wordless Chorus”

“Compound Fracture”

“Touch Me I’m Going to Scream”

“Part 2”

“Remnants”

“One Big Holiday”

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What was YOUR favorite moment from the show? Tell us in the comments below!

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