I have a mixed appreciation of Bright Eyes. I recently started liking Conor Oberst's music a lot (starting with his new release Cassadaga and now prefering I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning) and decided to buy a ticket to go to see him at a big venue like Radio City, even though I don't enjoy places like that anymore. What really got me into Bright Eyes' music were Conor's voice, his lyrics and the way he sings them, more than the melody of his songs, so a show in a huge place with a sound system destroying his deliver most of the time and a guitar too often too loud was quite a let down. Having so many fans, with Bright Eyes there's no escape and I don't think there will be. What's gonna be next? Madison Square Garden? Unless they have an exclusive show at Bowery Ballroom and I happen to score a ticket without investing all my salary on it, this might have been the first and the last time that I get to see them then. So where are the mixed feelings? Since I came back from the show on Monday, I haven't been able to stop playing the only two albums I have by them, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and Cassadaga. They keep getting better and better in my headphones... during the show I don't know what happened but some of these songs were just plain boring to hear them live. Was it really the venue's size what didn't let me appreciate the show? or actually Bright Eyes is just boring sometimes?
Conor showed up dressing like one of the thousands of fans waiting for him, not in white as everybody expected, and with shorter hair than what I'd seen recently advertised on the web. He grabbed his acoustic guitar, put his knees together leaving some space between his feet and started a show with a ferocious Another Traveling Song. Taking about ferocious, have you seen him spitting? Man, he almost does it as many times as Cole, of the Black Lips fame... good that his band mates don't mind it cause the guy's spit sometimes flies way too long.
Well, I think a found the reason. I just found a set list of the show over the comments in Brooklynvegan and it's helping me to understand why I was spacing out most of the show. Here it is:
Another Traveling Song
We Are Nowhere And Its Now
Arc Of Time
If The Brakeman Turns My Way
Bowl Of Oranges
Old Soul Song
A Song To Pass The Time
Lover I Dont Have To Love
Blue Walls (Tom Petty Cover)
Ten of his sixteen songs are not on the only two albums I have, which are presumably his two best ones. Are the other albums he has that good and representative of his music to him that he decides to use some songs from those as the heart of his show? Anyways, he lost me right there for at least 30 minutes of those ten songs. I can only give a personal opinion, as someone who doesn't really know this artist: the show wasn't great. In fact, forgetting how much I like the original six songs that I knew, and considering that I go to tons of shows where I have no idea of the music I am about to hear, I think it wasn't good overall, even considering what I am experiencing right now, which is that Oberst's music is on the grower side. I did enjoy those six songs tho, especially Poison Oak, but it was because I did like them already, not because it was particularly special to hear them live.
You know what? I'm just very confused or just very upset that he didn't play First Day of My Life, a song that after playing and playing it so many times these days still gives me chills. Truth is, I shouldn't have started writing this... it went and it's going nowhere. [photos of the show]
Were you at the show? How did you like it?
Bright Eyes links: Stream Cassadaga, Live at KCRW, Official Website, YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia