Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Six years later Bright Eyes returns to the El Rey

(photo cred: P-fork)
"Sometimes I love country music, and other times I fucking hate it. It doesn't matter though, because I'm going for a surfer look now."
- Conor Oberst

There are two truths in the statement above: Country music has a tendency to be polarized between beautifully iconic and painfully nauseating; Conor Oberst can achieve anything he puts his heart and mind into - if he wants to be a surfer, he'll end up a surfer. I spoke of a similar love/hate for country in my Four Winds review, and said that Conor seemed to be moving towards alt-country. Now I'd just say that Bright Eyes holds a genre unto his own. The justification for my latter statement took shape after witnessing Bright Eyes play what might be the best show of 2007 (until the Cassadaga tour of course). The 90 minute, air tight, arena ready, all out assault showcased a batch of new songs, old songs, b-sides and a cover that left my jaw on the floor and my ears in the sky. Hyperbole? These are just the plain facts.

I was a bit nervous coming into the show, after reading Pitchfork's mediocre review of his performance in Chicago. They spoke of a "lumber(ing)" 15 song set, where "everybody settled comfortably into a languid country-rock pace." Whether that was true or not in Chicago, Bright Eyes delivered nothing but overflowing energy at the El Rey. I knew there was nothing to worry about after only the first song, "I Must Belong Somewhere" - a favorite of mine from the I'm Wide Awake tour. Lyrically, the song is a high water mark in Conor's career: "Leave the old town drunk on his wooden stool /Leave the autumn leaves in the swimming pool / Leave the poor black child in his crumbling school today." Even the b-sides off Four Winds EP gained new life on stage.

Conor talked about how he played the El Rey in 2001, solo, and didn't say a word to the audience the entire set. Now in 2007, Conor is the leader of one of the most talented six/seven piece bands around, is able to keep the audience in awe of every note he plays, and has a captivating fire that keeps him striving. The worst part about it, is that he's only three years older than me. God I hate that guy. Well, not really.

[mp3] Bright Eyes - I Must Belong Somewhere (live)

[mp3] Bright Eyes - Four Winds (EP version)

Cassadaga is being released on April 10th, and Bright Eyes will be on tour for the next few months:

03/16 London, England - Koko
03/18 Oxford, England - Brookes University Student Union
03/22 Oslo, Norway - Cosmopolite
03/24 Stockholm, Sweden - Debaser
03/26 Berlin, Germany - Columbia Club
03/27 Cologne, Germany - Gloria
03/30 Paris, France - Cafe de la Danse
03/31 Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Melkweg
04/22 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
04/23 Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
04/24 Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre
04/25 Minneapolis, MN - State Theatre
04/26 Omaha, NE - Holland Performing Arts Center
04/28 Denver, CO - Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre
04/29 Salt Lake City, UT - Kingsbury Hall
05/01 Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre
05/02 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
05/04 Berkeley, CA - Greek Theatre
05/05 Santa Barbara, CA - Arlington Theatre
05/06 Los Angeles, CA - Walt Disney Concert Hall
05/08 San Diego, CA - SOMA
05/09 Tempe, AZ - Mesa Amphitheatre
05/11 Dallas, TX - Palladium Ballroom
05/12 Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom
05/13 Austin, TX - Bass Concert Hall
05/14 New Orleans, LA - Republic
05/16 Tampa, FL - Tampa Theatre
05/17 Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Live
05/18 Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
05/19 Nashville, TN - Ryman Audiotorium
05/20 Columbus, OH - Wexner Center for the Arts
05/21 Detroit, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre
05/22 Toronto, Ontario - Massey Hall
05/24 Boston, MA - Wang Center for the Performing Arts
05/25 New York, NY - Town Hall
05/26 New York, NY - Town Hall
05/28 New York, NY - Town Hall
05/29 New York, NY - Town Hall
05/30 New York, NY - Town Hall
05/31 New York, NY - Town Hall
06/01 New York, NY - Town Hall



Blogger Jad said...

Great review. Thanks.

5:52 PM  
Blogger the migrant said...

i wonder if you would repost 'i must belong somewhere [live], or if you could send it to me otherwise? thanks for the great post, great blog.

2:31 PM  

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