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The curtain rose at Spreckels Theater and the guys onstage, in suits and ties, got down to the business of folk-rocking out.

Monsters of Folk is Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward. Despite the band members' disparate music styles, the Monsters create a cohesive sound that's so seamless it's, well, scary.

The set list included several songs from the band's self-titled debut album, including the breathtaking "Dear God (Sincerely, M.O.F.)," the driving "Say Please," and the old-time-y "The Sandman, the Brakeman, and Me," as well as selections from each band member's individual catalog.

Ward, James, Mogis, and Oberst switched among acoustic, electric, and bass guitars to piano and synthesizers and back again throughout the evening, with Mogis throwing mandolin, steel guitar, and theremin into the mix. Will Johnson of Centro-matic backed them up on drums, readily rolling himself into the M.O.F. vibe.

It was sonically and visually thrilling to experience such masterful musicianship in so streamlined a fashion for over three hours, so much so it almost seemed businesslike in its execution. Unsurprising, considering these Monsters of Folk are pros. And they've got the duds to prove it.

Artist: Monsters of Folk
Show date: October 20, 2009
Venue: Spreckels Theatre
Seats: Center Orchestra, D105

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