What is sure to be one of the summer’s hit records officially released yesterday: My Morning Jacket’s Circuital. The band’s front man, Jim James, poignantly noted last night that in the Internet age, “Record releases aren’t what they used to be.”
Thank goodness for all of us. The show was billed, through a viral Internet advertising campaign, as Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express. Acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes, with whom James had worked on the Dylan biopic I’m Not There, directed the webcast.
Giants of web video YouTube and VEVO teamed with Haynes to offer three, simultaneous streaming feeds of the performance. As an objective observer, I can honestly say the quality of the live film and audio was astounding. Don’t tell American Express, but I may have paid for this experience.
“This is a strange time,” James said to the capacity crowd at Louisville’s Palace Theatre. “…I just want to thank you all for being here.”
My Morning Jacket’s genre smashing jams rollicked across the airwaves last night, thrilling more than those along the Ohio River. New tracks such as “First Light” and “Outta My System” danced along nicely with the band’s established hits of “Golden,” “Off the Record,” and “The Way that He Sings.”
Special guests included fellow Kentuckian Ben Sollee and current touring partner Daniel Martin Moore. Erykah Badu also joined MMJ for a few tracks that included a personal highlight: James singing the hook from “Tyrone.” Magic!
James is right about a few things. The very foundations of the music industry are beyond wobbling, they’ve snapped. For the moment, the benefit has landed squarely on the shoulders of the consumer. Album leaks are available weeks if not months in advance via little more than a Google search. Boundaries between consumer and thief have disappeared, not simply blurred.
On the other side of the coin, an artist’s ability to reach an audience is at an unparalleled height. All of this was on display at the Palace last night. Oh yeah, and there was some seriously good music played. If you don’t believe me, check out the highlights on My Morning Jacket’s VEVO page.