Southern rock and Teva’s: A Review of My Morning Jacket at the Somerset Amphitheater
by Jaroslav Kreysa
Crossing the bridge from Stillwater into Wisconsin, the van was full of anticipation for the My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and Trampled By Turtles concert that was taking place at the Somerset Amphitheater. As we entered through the dirt road we could see that we weren’t the only ones excited for the show, as there were actually a good amount of people waiting by the gates. The ones who were there just kind of hanging around the amphitheater seemed to be younger, drinking and very into Frisbee. Once those gates opened, however, people poured through to the immediate adjacent line that Budweiser had for checking IDs. The second stop on this journey through sound was the ticket booth—which was a bit of a problem for a lot of the patrons due to only being able to buy tickets in multiples of 10’s in order to purchase food, beer and other beverages. Some fans went straight to the front of the stage in order to be able to have good seats for when Trampled By Turtles hit the stage.
Calm before the storm. (Photo by Brady Groothuis)
The first band up was Trampled By Turtles. I was working the Rock the Cause booth at the show during this period, so I have a better understanding of the surroundings of the show as opposed to the music that took place. A couple things It did seem that the people were very receptive to the band, and I was intrigued by the idea of having zero percussion with their sound. During the time of working at the Rock the Cause booth I noticed a lot of things that were unusual to the kinds of shows I go to back home. For example, there were a lot more fans in their mid-30’s and 40’s then I am used to seeing at shows. Fans’ styles included tie dyed shirts, open-toed sandals, tank tops, male skirts, tattoos, piercings and (my personal favorite to see back in the concert-going attire) Teva sandals. During this time I also got a good indication of what the show layout was before it got too dark.
Horsing around on stage (photo by Jolene O’Rourke)
As Band of Horses got on stage to start their set, I got to switch out of rotation and actually take notes on the show. The band started out with the intro to their first record appropriately titled “The First Song.” After that, lead singer Ben Bridwell began to banter with the crowd, stating, “It’s a beautiful night out here. We’re lucky as hell.” That quickly got the band moving into “The Great Salt Lake,” which is a really catchy song when it’s not being stopped in the middle by Bridwell, saying, “Sorry this guitar is so messed up. I gotta fix it.” This was when I realized that this guy was maybe a bit of a pre-madonna having to stop in the middle of a song completely tune his guitar and go at it again. It was during this brief intermission that I actually realized that Ryan Monroe, the piano (and occasional guitar) player, looked a whole lot like the actor Ethan Suplee, which I couldn’t seem to get out of my mind the rest of the set.
The group seemed to be enjoying the performance just as much as the crowd—having playful banter off-microphone, smiling and giving each other praise. The fans just wanted to do their dancing and singing in the crowd over the cement while the sun was beginning to set. Bridwell kept talking about how his wife is actually from the Twin Cities area, how nice it was to be able to have the day off the day before in the Cities and how he wished his wife and son could’ve been there with him. The group played a lot of their back catalogue but snuck in a few new songs that are coming out on their September 18 release, Mirage Rock. They closed out their set by thanking everyone for coming out, to enjoy the beautiful night, and then went on to thank My Morning Jacket.
Next was the My Morning Jacket set—well after a huge fiasco with the monstrous line at the beer truck, that is. When the band started you could see the anticipation being replaced with utter enjoyment from the fans. The set was a constant sound of guitar riffs, booming lyrics and the blinding sight of their incredible light show that illuminated the entire Wisconsin sky. It seemed like the band got into back catalogue at the show though because a lot of people were trying to sing along with the songs over the thudding sound. It was a very relaxed show, with people sitting in their camping chairs, smoking cigarettes, drinking Blue Moon. Trampled By Turtles got asked to come back on stage with My Morning Jacket, which the hometown crowd loved.
The crowd grows at Somerset Amphitheater. (Photo by Brady Groothuis)
Throughout the show, I was more interested in the diversity that came through those gates than the music that seemed to captivate and unite the rest of the crowd. The dynamic was something I had never seen before, as parents and their children seemed to be enjoying the same kind of music. The camping aspect of the show that was offered probably helped to bring out entire families. Fans young and old certainly enjoyed the great outdoors and a great line-up of music.
My Morning Jacket Review
by Faydra Lagro
Upon arriving in Somerset, Wisconsin for the My Morning Jacket Concert, I could already tell that the crowd would be brilliant for people watching. The obnoxiously orange McNally Smith minivan I was riding in inched up the drive past dozens of anxious concert early birds. There was the typical “Chaco-Teva-Birkenstock,” bunch hanging around the tailgate area, drinking brews and enjoying the great outdoors. Then there were the free-spirited hippies, both young and old acheter viagra 50mg ligne. The latter kept things more reserved with Grateful Dead tie dyed tees, while the younger generation proved to be a new breed of super hippies. These newer advocates of the peace and love ideology donned dread-locks, patch-work crossbodies and man-skirts. (Yes, man-skirts.) On the opposite end of the spectrum were representatives of the country/folk scene—baseball caps, cargo shorts and boots. There was also the Somerset locals—an all-ages crowd coming out for something to do around town. And, of course, there were the die-hard fans of My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, and Trampled by Turtles, who purchased their souvenir t-shirts the minute they came just so they could wear it all night. No matter the clothes, you could see and feel the anticipation of the crowd.
The gates opened and, as expected, those at the front made a bee-line for the very front of the stage. Others opted to grab their wristbands and tickets for food and beer first. It wasn’t long, however, until the steady stream of concertgoers entering through the gate broke up this distinction to fill the space and make a sizable crowd for the first act, Trampled by Turtles. As the night went on and Band of Horses took the stage, the crowd had at least tripled. A huge congregation of people clung as close to the stage as possible, not once sitting down the whole five-or-so hours the music persisted. Then there was the more reserved crowd, setting up shop on the grassy slopes leading down to the hordes of people. I wove in between both territories and found an extremely happy crowd on both ends. As I gravitated towards the one and only beer tent (with what grew to be the worlds longest line and the worlds most irritated, thirsty-for-beer concertgoers), I knew I had found the night’s downfall. Five-thousand people were at the show and there was one tent alone reserved to fulfill their alcoholic needs. It was a small-scale disaster.
McNally Smith students Peter Day and Faydra Largo sporting smiles and credentials (photo by Lauren McCauley)
As the sun went down, the beer tent line to beat all other lines had been dealt with and the energy swelled as we all prepared for My Morning Jacket to take the stage. When they did, it was kind of like magic right there in Somerset. Thanks to the coming of darkness, lights and tech were in full swing and like the crowd, My Morning Jacket had come to rock. Out of the three bands that night, I was least familiar with My Morning Jacket, but most pleasantly surprised at what they brought to the table: an eclectic goldmine of songs. Not a single one of the songs played seemed to have any remnants from the last. It was amazing to me. Most groups thrive off of continuity, but not My Morning Jacket. The one gem they do posses that pulls it all together is lead singer, Jim James. His vocals were pure, ringing and huge. They filled that amphitheater and ensnared us all. And the most enchanting thing he did with that voice was to take a second to tell the crowd, “This is giving me nostalgia … this has been a perfect evening.” We all ate that up and screamed back our agreement. The night wore on, bringing forth music with hints of traditional southern country, alternative rock and experimental tonalities. We were treated to an extra-long encore that brought Trampled by Turtles back on stage for just one more song: “Wonderful (The Way I Feel).” It was a collaborative effort from both groups, boasting killer harmonies and an intimate segue from the driving melodies of the night. Though it grew increasingly cooler as the set wore on, concertgoers were not fazed. The music was too mesmerizing to retreat even a second before it was finished.
Trampled By Turtles
by Doug Waguespack
It started with a soundcheck. People lined up at the gates, eagerly awaiting entry. As they heard the instruments breathe the first signs of life that the excited gaggle had heard since they arrived, faces began switching on and sparks started shooting from observing eyes. When the checking was finished, the gates opened, the bag check process was initiated, and ears seeking nourishment bottlenecked in. As soon as feet were inside the gates, their strides tripled in speed. Every person that entered the Somerset Amphitheater within those first 30 minutes literally sprinted through what would later become a grueling, grim line for booze to collect en masse directly in front of the stage. These were the people here for their stars, their hometown heroes—bluegrass demigods Trampled by Turtles. They are currently on a rapid rise to the top, and this hungry audience was the reason why.
Trampled By Turtles soundchecking (photo by Jolene O’ Rourke)
Through all the canned songs while the stage was empty, through the heat of a 4:00 pm sun, through no beverages, the group of fans held their ground. When the band emerged onto the stage’s forefront, there was a brief greeting, but frontman Dave Simonett knew what was in demand. They eased the crowd’s energy a bit by opening with “Midnight on the Interstate” from their recently debuted Stars & Satellites album. This drew in the rest of their fans who were in attendance (which filled out the floor quite nicely). The delay effect on the fiddle transported the arena onto a dark, moonlit road. If you closed your eyes you were alone; peaceful and free. Not to let the audience’s juice die completely, the band ramped it up with the first of many dazzling display of Ryan Young’s exceptional fiddle prowess. The energy kept pumping through to their fifth installment, “Widower’s Heart,” showcasing their beautiful harmonies and acute attention to detail dealing with specific dynamics in their sound as one unified entity. As soon as the sound faded from the last note, the group launched into an anything-but-turtle-inspired, dizzying barrage of speed and sound. Reaching back to their roots, the intensity built as the shredding commenced. Just when I thought they could go no more, they hit a stunning group accent and careened into an even faster realm. (Even though I didn’t see it happen, I’m pretty sure heads exploded.) During their next track, “Wait So Long”, I became aware of the audiences bodies, hands, and heads moving in unison with the still-pumping arm-weapons of the raw force the people came to see. After the tenth track, “Alone” sent a sobering message on the facts of life, the crowd was satisfied. Another show well-played, gentlemen. Well-played, indeed.
Into the Bowl with Band of Horses
by Brady Groothuis
As I approached closer to the Somerset Amphitheater, walking down into a literal bowl of grass and concrete where the front of house was located, the feeling of being at an outdoor live show really took hold. As I was looking up at the massive stage with the huge, blue Somerset flags on each side waving in the wind, my excitement grew and I felt the crowds’ excitement grow with mine. Band of Horses took the stage—the members with all their tattoos and beards looked more like a hard rock band rather than a brilliant, eerie, very well put together indie-ambient rock group. The sound that came from their instruments was just as full and beautiful as I imagined it. The crowd took off with the music—dancing and swaying and hugging loved ones, it was a fantastic sight to be a part of. The organ player was sitting behind his instrument looking as cool and focused in the music as any professional musician, as he sang the song he wrote, “Older,” to which the crowd cheered and clapped along.
Band Of Horses @ Somerset Amphitheater. (Photo by Brady Groothuis)
The band’s overall persona was a huge part of the show: they looked and acted like a band that has worked as hard as you possibly can to get to the point they are currently at, and their live sound and performance backs that up. The band usually had three guitars going at once; sometimes a mix of acoustic and electric. Band of Horses makes their set great when the music would continue into the next song, they love to elongate the songs so they can transition and switch instruments or tune if they needed to. They played a brand new song called “Long Valve” and the lead singer Ben Bridwell, dedicated it to his wife and child. This made the crowd cheer and clap violently and I could tell he loved the response. Occasionally, “The Ben” would stop the whole band in the middle of the song if his guitar was just a little out of tune or if a string was messed up—like during the middle of “Funeral.” The flow would only continue after “The Ben” fixed his guitar and the music would continue right on the note it left off. Bridwell has a special spot in his heart for Minnesota, and he made that evident when he gave a shout out to Minneapolis right before they struck the first chord of “Laredo” and the crowd loved it. Band of Horses is truly a one-of-a-kind band that will always have a place in Minnesota for whenever they want to come throw a brilliant show for us again.
My Morning Jacket
by Lauren McCauley
Entering the grounds of the Somerset Amphitheater I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I came to find was a healthy mix of young adults and individuals in their 40’s and 50’s, plentiful amounts of cargo shorts and sandals and, unfortunately, cluttered of vendor booths. The other interns and I soon found out that—at a festival with thousands of people in attendance—there was only one beer tent and a couple of food trucks. If you can’t see where I’m going with this yet, let me just tell you, trying to get beer was a nightmare (if not impossible) as the line progressively got longer every minute throughout the night. However, despite the long beer lines, people couldn’t complain too much as Trampled by Turtles, Band of Horses and, last but not least, My Morning Jacket put on a memorable show.
It’s safe to say that no matter what kind of music you listen to, anyone and everyone can find something to enjoy in My Morning Jacket’s sound. From rock to metal to alternative to reggae, this group has mastered it all. Frontman Jim James leads the way with attractive vocal stylings that soar and compliment over any accompaniment given by the band. James’ voice simply demands attention from any ear close by. The energy radiating from the stage and crowd made the night even better. Tons of lights hung from overhead, illuminating the band. My Morning Jacket commanded the stage by effortlessly performing difficult riffs with the crowd—several thousand strong— raving back in reply. From the production to the band to the crowd, the experience was unforgettable.
Band Of Horses @ Somerset Amphitheater
by Jolene O’Rourke
On August 10, 2012 Band of Horses joined My Morning Jacket and Trampled By Turtles at Somerset Amphitheater for an all day festival filled with music, thousands of dedicated fans, and really long lines. Band of Horses was the second band to hit the stage, decked out in Ray Bans, tattoos, beards, and their impressive line-up of songs from old and new albums. The band kicked off their set with the appropriately titled, “First Song” as fans started to crawl down into the bowl to get closer to the stage. Lead singer, Bed Bridwell, interrupted the second song, “The Great Salt Lake” to show the crowd just how big of a diva he is and inform us all that his guitar was out of tune. Suffice to say, he continued to play the song (which actually sounded great). The entire band was instantly comfortable and engaged with the audience. By the fourth song the crowd caught on and began to cheer loudly, clap along, and become more comfortable with the drunk man handing out high-fives to everyone around him. Bridwell informed the audience how much he loves Minneapolis, and clearly, the Minneapolitans loved him back for that comment. Halfway through the set, the band played “Laredo,” a tune that was written in a cabin in the north woods of Minnesota. To convey the appropriate mood for the song, Bridwell played with cigarette in mouth; the man is comfortable on stage. As the set progressed the crowd—diversely filled with hippies, hipsters, moms and dads—began to sing along louder than before and sway together in unison. Band of Horses wrapped up their set playing “Ghost,” leaving their new and old fans begging for more.
My Morning Jacket lights up the Wisconsin night (photo by Jolene O’Rourke)
As I was beginning the day at Somerset I was lost knowing what to expect of the day. I immediately found tons of dedicated Trampled By Turtles fans who explained to me that when they’re not at the shows they’re out spreading the word of their favorite band. I found parents and their children (which, admittedly, was a little strange at first), men wearing skirts, glow-in-the-dark hula hoopers, and mismatched shoes (is this a thing now?). I can’t forget to mention the ridiculously long ticket and beer lines (really, what festival only sets up one beer tent?), which led to just about every fan to take part in “double-fisting.” Oh yeah, and the amazing light show put on by My Morning Jacket at the end of the night. All-in-all, it was an amazing day with beautiful weather and no complaints from me.