I must say, when I heard that Bright Eyes were coming to my fair city of Norfolk, Virginia, last December, I damn near had an orgasm on the spot. I asked for January 30th, the day of the show, off from work and then spent around the next two months in eager anticipation.
I arrived about half an hour before the doors were supposed to open and waited in the longest line I've ever seen outside the Norva with my girlfriend. I was expecting there to be a lot of idiotic middle school girls going to the show to be cool, but actually most of the people there seemed to be pretty genuine.
After fighting my way to the front and dealing with a large crowd of rowdy drunk North Carolinian girls for quite some time, Tilly And The Wall took the stage. I had only heard about one song by the band and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to these guys. For those that don't know, the band consists of a dude playing acoustic guitar, a dude playing piano, a girl tapdancing, and two female singers that occasionally play other instruments; very high energy, very interesting songwriting, and the tapdancing comes off surprisingly well. This band made me smile because they seemed so happy and excited to be doing what they were doing, and their music was very good. At one point, the drummer for Rilo Kiley (who was also playing drums for Bright Eyes) came out and banged on a trash can with some drumsticks for one of their songs. I would give their short set about a 7/10.
Next was a band I had never even heard of called Coco Rosie, and with good reason. These guys are quite possibly THE WORST band I have ever paid to see. Todd Rundgren might have been worse actually, but he doesn't count because my mom paid for my ticket that time. Describing this band is kind of hard. There were three people in the band: a black dude wearing an Indian feather headdress and two marginally attractive white girls (one of whom had a large French moustache drawn on). The one with the moustache wailed in this incredibly annoying voice that sounded like something in between a cat dying and a lesbian grandmother being forced down a garbage disposal and played random samples from kids toys in the background. The other girl played keyboards or guitar and sang in this opera-ish voice most of the time. The dude in the headdress acted as a human beatbox most of the time and also freestyle rapped for one of the songs, and when he was doing the beatboxing, it was actually kind of cool. Throughout their entire set, a screen in the background played random artsy images of various subjects (no other really good way to describe this). This set was painfully long. At one point between songs, the opera-singing girl said, "You guys like techno music? We gotta keep it alive." Anyway, the beatboxing guy is the only reason this band gets as high as a 1/10.
After a long set-up time in which a large multitude of guitars, mandolins, and other instruments were set up amid the keyboards, mics, and drumsets, Conor Oberst and the motley crew that makes up the rest of Bright Eyes unceremoniously walked onto the stage amid rousing applause. They then proceeded to play the first three tracks off their new album in order. On every single one, Conor's voice sounded great and the entire band was incredibly tight-sounding. The songs I remember them playing include (in no particular order), were "At The Bottom Of Everything," "We Are Nowhere And It's Now," "Old Soul Song (For A New World Order)," "Another Travelling Song," an unreleased song called "Everything Belongs Somewhere," a rare song from a very-limited edition 7" called "When The President Talks To God," "Poison Oak," "Train Under Water," "Landlocked Blues," "Padraic My Prince" (I was very surprised they'd play something as old as this), "A Scale, A Mirror, And These Indifferent Clocks," and "Make War." "When The President Talks To God" was amazing...so much passion in the song, and such incisive lyrics. The encore consisted of one of the songs off of the Lua single called "True Blue," followed by "Method Acting" and "Road To Joy." "True Blue" was an odd choice for a song to play live, simply because it's so odd and really kind of lacking. Conor prefaced the song by saying, "This song was written for my nephew, who is obsessed with the color blue." In "Road To Joy," the band jammed out for about an extra five minutes and Conor ran around and knocked over mic stands and pieces of the drum set and threw guitars amid feedback and general rocking-out. It was very cool and an excellent way to close the show. My only complaint with this entire show is that they (surprise) didn't play more old stuff and they didn't play several of the songs I liked off the new album. But overall, truly an excellent show. Bright Eyes gets a 9/10, and the entire show overall gets a 7/10.