monstersfolk3.jpg
Chris Kornelis
Conor Oberst, Jim James, and M. Ward -- Monsters of Folk -- played The Paramount Theatre on Thursday, October 15.

I went into

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Last Night: Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, and the Monsters of Folk Could Have Used "One Big Holiday" at The Paramount

monstersfolk3.jpg
Chris Kornelis
Conor Oberst, Jim James, and M. Ward -- Monsters of Folk -- played The Paramount Theatre on Thursday, October 15.

I went into the Monsters of Folk show -- yes, that vanity project featuring Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and M. Ward -- with low expectations, but with a glimmer of hope that I was about to be surprised. It was the same feeling I had when I went to see Sheryl Crow at Bumbershoot. So, let me get this out of the way early: The set was better than I expected, the show/tour was pitched incorrectly, and I would have enjoyed it better if it had been an hour shorter.

Here's what I was thinking about during the nearly three hours of entertainment:

8 p.m.: Apparently their names aren't as bankable as their voices. This place looks barely half full. Did they really assume that people were going to equate "Yim Yames" with "Off The Record," "Gideon," and "Dancefloors"?

8:20: This is already more interesting than their record. Lots more energy.

8:45: M. Ward's soulful vocals have taken on a gospel feeling. He can sound strained and affected on record, but tonight he sounds genuine and sincere.

9:00: This isn't a Monsters of Folk show as much as it is solo sets from James, Oberst, and Ward, with lots of collaboration, and it's pretty cool. Had the solo sets -- not the mediocre album -- been the focal point of the sales pitch, I think we would have seen fewer empty seats.

9:15: "Smokin' From Shootin'" sounded great, but I can already tell this set is going to need a lot more My Morning Jacket.

9:20: Next to Ward and James, Oberst really spits his uninflected vocals.

9:30: Wow, people really must thought there was going to be an opening act. The show's half over, kids.

10:00: Damn, they really are going to play soft, acoustic lullabies for an hour straight. So much for mixing it up. Every time they get something going they break up the momentum. It's not that they don't sound good, it's that the set lacks nuance. They just keep stacking up the harmonies, and I'm about to fall asleep.

10:10: I am asleep.

10:15: Alright, I'm back, but only because I feel like we're about to hear "One Big Holiday."

10:30: I was mistaken. And now we're headed into an encore, and the only way they're going to right this set for me is if they melt the stage upon their return.

10:54: Nope. The curtain dropped (literally), and the set never fully took off. Yes, parts were great. But, well, the show was nearly three hours long, it was painfully slow for large spans of time, and there was no (official) intermission.

 
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