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  • 7:19:59 pm
  • Monday
  • 24 June 2024

Bright Eyes live in Times Square

Friction at the door didn’t stop Tweed from rocking out to Conor Oberst and his “solo” outfit Bright Eyes.

New York City winters are bitter cold. Sometimes the hospitality is even colder. When Tweed arrived at Town Hall to catch the last of Bright Eyes’ three back-to-back sold out shows, we expected to be on the guest list. So did the rest of the press that was stuck in the box office for half an hour while Conor Oberst’s team sorted out the mix-up. After missing opener Tilly and the Wall, we were finally ushered in by Bright Eyes’ publicity crew with used ticket stubs, a ghetto photo-pass, and directions to “find open seats.”

The performance, overall, was on target. Conor and company launched into tracks from the recently released I’m Wide Awake. It’s Morning. Between each jam, the theater hall erupted into catcalls from the gaggles of itchy-vagina’d teenyboppers while Tweed, in reaction, called out for the often under-sung Mike Mogis, a fixture of Saddle Creek Records. In the cold venue’s warm spotlight, the little tourist girls saw deliverance from suburban insulation. Their forty-something fathers saw trouble. Conor’s constant tongue lashes at Dubya and nods to left-wingers sent fun-to-watch chills down the wallets of this older generation, as well as the DMB band-wagoneers.

Conversely, the sarcastic “When the President Talks to God” brought smiles to the home crowd faces—the twenty to thirty-something’s that marched against the war and pushed New York’s vote decisively against the Christian extremists. Ever the politician himself, Conor began his encore by kissing the head of infant Stella Mogis who he and Mike had brought out to say hello. Stella managed a few gurgles and grabbing gestures at the microphone before Mike returned her to the wings, ending the rush of cell phone photographers from aisle seat to stage. The encore assembly of Bright Eyes was ready to make some noise.

And they did. Bright Eyes closed down Town Hall with Conor’s riff on Beethoven, “Road to Joy,” the climax of which involved Conor standing on/falling off the drum kit, dropping his guitar, then beating it until the strings snapped. You could almost see him calculating the cost of repair and replacement, stopping him just short of an outright smashing. I don’t blame him, the Bush economy is a tough one.

All in all the show was impressive. While I do tease Conor for some of his dramatics and fan base, he is certainly a talented musician and showman. And forget the Wide Awake record—what I really look forward to is seeing how he follows up Digital Ash in a Digital Urn which I find far superior. (If you’re a bigger fan of Wide Awake I suggest you download the 2003 Bright Eyes live on KCRW show during which he plays the majority of those songs. It’s much better than the studio record.) And although Conor is a very talented young man, I think the touted ‘boy genius’ label, used to over hype him in certain rock journals, should be repealed and replaced with ‘sexy narcissist.’

Leave ‘boy genius’ to Stephen Wolfram.

Stewart Smith
Friday, 28 January 2005

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2024-06-24 19:19:59
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