For four nights My Morning Jacket took over the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun, Mexico for the inaugural edition of their One Big Holiday festival. When the event was first announced we weren’t sure we could make it work, between the cost and the scheduling, but man are we glad we did. As MMJ diehards, Neil and I have seen more than 20 MMJ sets each, dating back to 2003, and missing out on this event is a decision we probably would have regretted for a long time to come. Alas, our wallets and livers hate us, but we’ve just returned from one of the best weeks of our lives.
Once we arrived at the Hard Rock in Cancun the all-inclusive madness began as we were immediately greeted by drinks and food, both of which would have a constant presence throughout our trip. After settling ourselves in our room, conveniently located right outside the concert courtyard, we headed for some dinner and drinks. That first evening the whole resort was packed with strictly MMJ fans, and everyone was abuzz with what might be in store the next four nights. After eating way more than we should have (another theme for the week) the moment we had all been waiting for finally arrived- MMJ’s first set of the week.
It was as if everyone in the crowd knew that this would be the beginning of three very special sets and indeed it was (see below for all three setlists). They started the night off with “Circuital” and from there anything was fair game. Highlights included Bob Weir (who had completed a very similar festival with Furthur the week prior) joining the band for three songs, “Heartbreakin’ Man” and “Evelyn”, and of course “Steam Engine”, which in my opinion is one of the band’s best live songs. After MMJ wrapped up their set with “Mahgeetah”, the party continued at the late night terrace with a DJ set from Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza.
After night one we got into a bit of a routine—wake up around 11am, eat breakfast, hit the pool and/or beach and start drinking, shower up around 5pm, choose a resort restaurant for dinner, rock the fuck out. Rinse. Repeat. After a day of sun and booze it was time for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to kick things off with a good old-fashioned New Orleans dance party. All the members of PHJB were giddy and visibly happy to be involved in such an event, and that energy was clearly infectious throughout the crowd. After an hour of bayou jazz it came time for the stars of the week to rock their second set.
Following the set from night one we weren’t quite sure how things could get any better, but they most definitely did. MMJ crushed nearly three hours of originals and some of our favorite covers like Velvet Underground’s “Oh Sweet Nuthin” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.” Night two was also very heavy on cuts from The Tennessee Fire, with the band performing five tracks off their debut album. The next morning the pool bar had everyone talking about the set two opening run from the prior night of “Bermuda Highway”, “Old September Blues”, and “Picture of You”, likely one of my favorite three song runs from the whole week.
Although we wished MMJ could have performed all four nights, The Flaming Lips were certainly a worthy slot filler for night number three. Following a fitting opening set from Mariachi El Bronx, The FLips performed a 2+ hour set of their own. Highlights included covers’ of The Beatles’ “I Want You” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” along with David Bowie’s “Heroes.” I was also very pleasantly surprised to hear two of my favorite FLips songs, “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” and “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton”, along with live staples “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Do You Realize??”
On the final day of the trip Neil and I discussed the two songs that had eluded us all these years, “O Is The One That Is Real” and “Strangulation”, and how desperately we needed MMJ to perform them during the final set of the week. When the band busted into “O” about halfway through their first set that night we were elated, and joked about how epic it would be to go straight into “Strangulation.” And wouldn’t you know that lightning struck twice. Neil and I both looked at each other, “Where can they go from here?” Well when they followed up that two song run with a 15+ minute version of “Dondante” (full video here) everyone in the crowd collectively felt exactly like this. The night ended fittingly with a rousing version of the band’s trademark set closer, and now festival namesake, “One Big Holiday.” Over the course of three nights My Morning Jacket had performed over 60 songs with no repeats, and we couldn’t have been happier with their song selection, both originals and covers. The band hinted at a return to Cancun for One Big Holiday Part II so it’s probably best that we start saving now.
Check out full setlists from all three nights below along with links to video clips for a handful of songs from each night.
Jan 26, 2014
THE WAY THAT HE SINGS
HUNGRY HEART (Bruce Springsteen cover)
SMOKIN FROM SHOOTIN
WHAT A WONDERFUL MAN
SLOW SLOW TUNE
KNOCKIN ON HEAVEN’S DOOR (Bob Dylan cover w/Bob Weir)
I KNOW YOU RIDER (Grateful Dead cover w/BW)
BROWN EYED WOMEN (GD cover w/BW)
TYRONE (Erykah Badu cover)
EASY MORNING REBEL
Jan 27, 2014
OFF THE RECORD
ROCKET MAN (Elton John cover)
IT BEATS 4 U
I WILL SING YOU SONGS
PHONE WENT WEST
OLD SEPTEMBER BLUES
PICTURE OF YOU
OH SWEET NUTHIN (Velvet Underground cover)
BLACK METAL (w/Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
TOUCH ME PT. 2
DEAR PRUDENCE (Beatles cover w/Bob Weir)
YOU NEVER CAN TELL (Chuck Berry cover w/PHJB and BW)
CARNIVAL TIME (Al Johnson cover w/BW and PHJB)
MOVE ON UP (Curtis Mayfield cover w/PHJB)
Jan 29, 2014
OUTTA MY SYSTEM
HARVEST MOON (Neil Young cover)
O IS THE ONE
DON’T DO IT (The Band cover w/PHJB)
TOUCH ME PT. 1
DAY IS COMING
ISN’T IT A PITY (George Harrison cover w/Wayne Coyne)
HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS (w/PHJB)
ALL NIGHT LONG (Lionel Richie cover)
ROCK THE CASBAH (The Clash cover)
ONE BIG HOLIDAY