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Monsters of Folk Show Off Killer Chops at Marathon Gig in L.A.

October 19, 2009 12:59 PM ET

Monsters of Folk played a monster-sized set last night at L.A.'s Greek Theatre, running through 35 songs in just under three hours — with no opener and no intermission — in support of the indie-rock supergroup's self-titled debut, which came out about a month ago. The Monsters comprise My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James; singer-songwriter (and She & Him guy) M. Ward; and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, both of Bright Eyes, and at the Greek the band's set alternated Monsters of Folk cuts with material from each member's respective catalog. Simply put, if you ever wind up in a game of Name That Tune with one of these dudes, come prepared.

Backed up on drums by Will Johnson of Centro-matic, the four musicians traded instrumental duties throughout the concert, with Mogis serving as something of a secret-weapon utility man: He laid some high-lonesome pedal steel on the Gram Parsons-ish "The Right Place," peeled off an insanely fast mandolin lick in Ward's "To Save Me" and even got busy on the triangle during "Slow Down Jo." James funked up "Whole Lotta Losin' " with a killer fuzz-bass freak-out, while Ward picked out a dizzying Leo Kottke-style solo in a jazz-folk take on his "One Hundred Million Years." Oberst stuck to guitar for most of the evening but ventured behind the keyboard several times, most memorably during "His Master's Voice," which closed the show on a mournful avant-gospel note.

As on the band's album, the Monsters' vocal harmonies were the marquee attraction last night: In "Sandman, the Brakeman and Me" their voices intertwined so naturally that you could've sworn they'd been singing together their entire lives.

Set list:

"Say Please"
"The Right Place"
"Soul Singer in a Session Band"
"Vincent O'Brien"
"Man Named Truth"
"Lullaby + Exile"
"One Hundred Million Years"
"Chinese Translation"
"Outta My Head"
"Golden"
"Ahead of the Curve"
"Baby Boomer"
"I Will Be There When You Die"
"We Are Nowhere and It's Now"
"The Big Picture"
"Smoke Without Fire"
"Sandman, the Brakeman and Me"
"Goodway"
"Whole Lotta Losin'"
"Magic Marker"
"Lime Tree"
"Bermuda Highway"
"Look at You"
"Wonderful (The Way I Feel)"
"Map of the World"
"Slow Down Jo"
"Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)"
"At the Bottom of Everything"
"Smokin' from Shootin'"
"Hit the Switch"
"Losin' Yo' Head"
"At Dawn"
"To Save Me"
"Another Travelin' Song"
"His Master's Voice"

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