ACL Live Shot (Second Weekend): My Jerusalem

Local bad seeds steamroll their ACL debut

By Michael Toland, 9:56AM, Sun. Oct. 13, 2013

Has Jeff Klein (left) become the ATX Nick Cave or is that Quiet Company’s Taylor Muse?
Has Jeff Klein (left) become the ATX Nick Cave or is that Quiet Company’s Taylor Muse?
photo by Shelley Hiam

“It’s weird playing in the daylight,” noted My Jerusalem leader Jeff Klein during his band’s debut ACL Fest. Given the Austin quintet’s penchant for brooding rock that finds a midpoint between the Afghan Whigs and the Bad Seeds, we’re inclined to agree: High noon at a festival awash in sunlight even on a cloudy day seems to be the wrong setting indeed.

The band ignored cognitive dissonance (and a sparse crowd) and blazed forward on all cylinders. Opening with the menacing title cut of its second album Preachers – as strong a calling card as any band could wish for – My Jerusalem showed off a live prowess earned by over a year of constant roadwork.

Brawny rockers like “Death Valley” and “Sweet Chariot” contrasted with sweet, poppy numbers like “Mono,” with its catchy “whoa-oh-oh-oh” post-chorus. In a savvy bit of set-listing, the noisy atmosphere of the tension-filled “Between Space” gave way to the power-popping “Oh Little Sister,” though an unsettling element provided connective tissue to both.

Penultimate number “Shatter Together” ratcheted up the tension with a furrowed-brow melody and its enigmatic title phrase. Is it enticement? Threat? Promise? The squall of “Sleepwalking” brought noisy relief, its ragged anthem crashing down with a classic, feedback-laced, Big Rawk Ending.

Tight in musicianship but loose in attitude, perfectly encapsulating its strengths and steamrollering over its weaknesses, My Jerusalem turned in the kind of thrilling performance that would’ve been a star-making turn had it been witnessed by more people.

For more ACL Fest coverage, see austinchronicle.com/acl. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.
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