Supergroup, THE MONSTERS OF FOLK, mesmerized the nearly silent crowd at the Greek Theatre on Sunday evening. Three incredible singer-songwriters collaborated to present a lovely musical kaleidoscope that left the audience entirely satisfied. Conner Oberst spat out lyrics with raw emotion and was carried away with his guitar playing while continuously leaping up onto the drum set. M. Ward brought his eerie surf rock guitar sound along with his haunting croon and got the crowd into the mood with solo pieces from POST WAR. He also pounded out songs from a small piano, stooped over like a hunchback and delighting his fans with melodic, soulful musical clatter. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the performance of Jim James of MY MORNING JACKET. With deep, gorgeous lyrics about faith and love and a voice like a spooky angel or a beautiful alien, he stood out as possibly the most exciting of the three front men. The crowd was quiet, but not due to disinterest. It was as though no one dared miss a word, or a note and some of the songs were incredibly sparse and slight. Toward the end of the show, however, the volume increased and the MONSTERS invoked flashes of Neil Young’s CRAZY HORSE- thrashing and wailing with electric guitars replacing loaded guns, like the bloody finale of a standoff in the center of the stage.
One almost hopes THE MONSTERS do not release another album as this incarnation so that they do not blemish the near perfection of their one and only masterpiece. The album itself is rich, bold, beautiful and instantly timeless. On Sunday night they were effortlessly able to perform it and bring it to life as though the band was one single entity; a Three-Headed Harmonious Serpent of Folk and Rock.