Shabazz Palaces And My Morning Jacket At The Wiltern
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By Crystal Larsen
What does a two-piece hip-hop collective from Seattle have in common with a five-piece psychedelic rock band from Louisville? Everything and nothing at the same time, but both Shabazz Palaces and My Morning Jacket found common ground as they shared the stage at the Wiltern on Sept. 13 for the capping performance of a three-night stay at the Wiltern for My Morning Jacket.
As Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler (formerly of the GRAMMY-winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets) and Tendai Maraire took the dimly lit stage and found their spots behind the various instruments they would play nonstop for the next 40 minutes, I was impressed by how quickly the duo were able to bring the audience into what they were doing. While Maraire furiously created tribal-inspired beats from his variety of percussion instruments, Butler laid down vocals and electronic beats that made for an ear-grabbing live-production party. It took only seconds to realize how this incredibly talented duo was hand-picked by My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James to open for the band on several dates. My Morning Jacket is a jam band in every sense of the term — they don't just perform for their audience, they bring them into the performance. It's an experience, and that's exactly what Shabazz Palaces provided. According to the duo, they don't perform to a set list. The show is driven by the vibe they're feeling, both as a duo and from the audience. It's an experience and it's all about the music.
"I don't know not doing music," said Maraire backstage.
As My Morning Jacket took the stage just a half-hour after Shabazz Palaces' set, the house was already packed with screaming fans. While it's easy to label My Morning Jacket as just a "rock" band, their influences are clearly wide-ranging. Packed with more guitars than I could count, the band accelerated through a two-and-a-half-hour set that covered their more than a decade-long career and highlighted their range of influences, from rock and R&B to jazz and electronica. Highlights included crowd favorites such as "Golden" and "Dancefloors," as well as surprise covers of Lionel Richie's "All Night Long," Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" and Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nothin.'"
But perhaps what is most impressive about Shabazz Palaces and My Morning Jacket is the fact that they can win over hundreds of fans by saying nothing at all. There was no funny in-between song banter; no heartfelt stories about why these songs are important to them; and no mid-song hugs or smiles between band members. But they were rocking their hearts out, delivering their music to an ever-accepting crowd.
"We rock hard," chanted Shabazz Palaces earlier in the evening, only to be echoed by James, who ended their set with my personal favorite, "One Big Holiday," singing, "If we holler loud and make our way/We'd all live one big holiday."
Holler loud, kids.
My Morning Jacket
"Off The Record"
"Outta My System"
"Thank You Too"
"Tonight I Wanna Celebrate With You"
"I Think I'm Going To Hell"
"Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (Velvet Underground cover)
"It's About Twilight Now"
"Touch Me I'm Going To Scream, Pt. 1"
"Holdin' On To"
"All Night Long" (Lionel Richie cover)
"Move On Up" (Curtis Mayfield cover)
"One Big Holiday"
To catch My Morning Jacket in a city near you, click here for tour dates.