The final day of the KahBang Music, Art & Film Festival was all about contrasts: electronic versus acoustic, large versus small and the expected versus the unexpected. The afternoon acts that alternated between the main and secondary stages ranged from intimate solo performances to bumping techno raves. Kicking off the main stage attractions, OurStage artist Lady Lamb The Beekeeper offered up a set of emotional, bare-bones tunes that featured only her and her Fender Jaguar. Just across the way, wearing their signature business attire and Stormtrooper helmets, DJ collaborative Lazerdisk Party Sex transformed the outdoor field into a daytime club scene.
Undoubtedly the biggest contrast, however, was between the two closing acts. Montreal-based electro-funk duo Chromeo unleashed a wave of impossibly catchy pop songs that seamlessly combined electronic and organic sounds. In the course of any given song, band members Dave 1 and P-Thugg would switch effortlessly between guitar, bass, synth, laptop and drums. Though all of the instrumental change-ups could easily seem distracting, both members adeptly managed to make them seem perfectly natural. Chromeo’s set flowed flawlessly through cuts from their most recent Business Casual record as well as older songs from their first two albums. They even managed to pay homage to past synth-rockers Dire Straits by segueing the intro riff from “Money For Nothing” into their hit “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys).”
After Chromeo’s powerhouse performance, the KahBang audience eagerly awaited the atmospheric rock of My Morning Jacket. While the longer-than-normal wait between the two sets seemed a bit out of the ordinary, few could have actually expected the bizarre events that took place backstage. After opening the show by playing solo on a vintage Omnichord, singer-guitarist Jim James announced that drummer Patrick Hallahan had taken ill from some bad shellfish and needed to be rushed to the hospital. Forced to do without their drummer for the entirety of the show, the band performed a mostly acoustic set while a stuffed bear took Hallahan’s place on the empty drum throne. My Morning Jacket were certainly determined to play no matter what, however their problems soon proved far from over. Throughout the night, Jim James was plagued by technical difficulties with his acoustic guitar that forced the band to stop and start again at various moments.
Despite the numerous setbacks that threatened to derail My Morning Jacket’s set, the band soldiered on admirably and took advantage of their acoustic setup to deliver heart-wrenching renditions of tunes from their recent release Circuital as well as songs from their mostly acoustic debut album The Tennessee Fire. Particularly affecting was a haunting version of that album’s “I Will Be There When You Die” that featured guitarist Carl Broemel on pedal steel.
Though Chromeo’s seamless electronic grooves could not have been further from My Morning Jacket’s halting acoustic set, both acts succeeded in their own right. My Morning Jacket particularly stood out for showing the audience exactly how a world-class band conducts itself when disaster strikes. The festival being almost entirely free of disturbances, it’s ironic that the main casualty of the weekend involved a member of the headlining act. Following James’ request to send out “positive vibes” to Hallahan, we here at OurStage wish him a speedy recovery and hope that the next time we catch My Morning Jacket, they’ll be able to rock out in full force.