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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

IN PHOTOS: My Morning Jacket delivers a ‘Golden’ performance at Ascend Amphitheater

The Ascend hosted a night of lights, dancing and guitar solos.
Vocalist+and+guitarist+Jim+James+sings+to+the+heavens%2C+captured+on+Sept.+23%2C+2022.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FMiguel+Beristain%29
Miguel Beristain
Vocalist and guitarist Jim James sings to the heavens, captured on Sept. 23, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

On a beautiful fall Friday in Nashville, I found myself racing to the Ascend Amphitheater to see one of my favorite live bands, My Morning Jacket. I first started listening to My Morning Jacket in preparation for their headlining performance at Shaky Knees music festival. I remember being mesmerized by the lights, Jim James’ vocals and the sheer musical perfection I witnessed. When I heard Kentucky rockstars were coming to Nashville, I knew I couldn’t miss it. 

Opening for the band was folk/R&B artist Joy Oladokun. An Arizona native, she moved to Nashville to continue her music career. She is a staunch supporter and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, being openly queer herself. Her music delves into the struggles of someone breaking out of the faith they were born into and having to build a new identity. 

“I wrote this song when I came out of the closet and wanted to write a song to all my friends saying to them I hope you still love me,” she recounted before singing “Jordan.” During the performance, she effortlessly blended her song “I See America” with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” creating one of the best renditions of the song I’ve heard. 

As My Morning Jacket took the stage, I was deafened by the cheers from the photo pit. They were almost as loud as the band was on stage. The band’s bear, an iconic stage prop of theirs, was wearing a simple tie-dye robe, and frontman Jim James was wearing a cutoff shirt. Each band member had a smile plastered on their face as they got ready to rock the Ascend to its core. 

What makes My Morning Jacket such a unique band is not encapsulated in their studio recordings. At each performance, they just don’t play their biggest hits like “Golden” and “Wordless Chorus.” As another concertgoer put it, “they always play songs they know will sound better live and it doesn’t matter how deep cut it is, they’re gonna kill it.” The lack of crowd interaction during the band’s performance was also intriguing. Most artists stop in the beginning or middle of their sets to talk to the audience and tell some cheeky story about being back in Nashville. My Morning Jacket did not. James only spoke to the crowd at the end of the show, thanking everyone for coming out to their first performance at the Ascend since 2015. This dynamic did not detract from the experience for anyone, in fact, the continuous stream of music heightened it. Most of the lawn, chairs and pit were dancing and singing to the music. The show was a homage to how the Grateful Dead concerts were designed to be a complete musical experience rather than a band just a band performing on stage. 

From a musician standpoint, the My Morning Jacket guys are legendary, from James’ vocals to Patrick Hallahan’s infectious energy behind the drums to Tom Blankenship’s groovy bass lines and Carl Broemel’s powerful guitar licks. James, Blankenship and Broemel kept switching out guitars throughout the night, showcasing a variety of beautiful instruments and each one giving the songs that subtle touch to perfect them. They gave a brilliant performance of “Dancefloors” which had the audience and me singing, “Oh I know… that it’s easy… there’s no trouble waitin’ for me” at the top of our lungs. “Golden” and “Wordless Chorus” were featured as well, sending the crowd into a frenzy as soon as the first notes rang out. 

What I love about concerts is that every band is someone’s band.

Ultimately, what I love about concerts is that every band is someone’s band. At every concert, at least one person knows every lyric by heart and has waited their whole life to see this specific band perform. Or there’s someone who has followed the band for every tour and has seen them dozens of times. My Morning Jacket was no different; I saw people young and old dancing their hearts out and fully expressing themselves as if it were their last day on Earth. My Morning Jacket is a band that leaves you fulfilled. Each show is an opportunity to let loose and express yourself however you see fit. They are undeniably a band everyone should see at least once in their life. 

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About the Contributor
Miguel Beristain
Miguel Beristain, Senior Staff Photographer
Miguel Beristain (’24) is a philosophy and cellular and molecular biology double major in the College of Arts and Science from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When not shooting for The Hustler, he can usually be found playing Magic the Gathering, exploring new restaurants or practicing guitar. He can be reached at .
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