Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes: live in New Yorklive in New York (2007)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5

Contributed by: ConsequentialBanditryConsequentialBanditry
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Omaha, Nebraska is a city one would not expect an artist to call his hometown, but indie-wunderkind Conor Oberst, and his band, Bright Eyes, do so proudly. The quavering, unsure voice with the soulful lyrics of a modern day Bob Dylan entertained hipsters and sensitive folk alike at New York's Bowery.

Omaha, Nebraska is a city one would not expect an artist to call his hometown, but indie-wunderkind Conor Oberst, and his band, Bright Eyes, do so proudly. The quavering, unsure voice with the soulful lyrics of a modern day Bob Dylan entertained hipsters and sensitive folk alike at New York's Bowery Ballroom for two nights as part of a small U.S. tour to promote a new EP, Four Winds, and an upcoming full-length, Cassadega.

The shows were sold out within a minute of being on sale, which was through Ticketmaster-subsidiary Ticketweb. Oberst has actively and vocally protested against Clear Channel, the media conglomerate that is closely allied with Ticketmaster, saying that its structure and status as the largest the world's largest promoter and marketer of live entertainment makes it impossible for independent bands and artists to tour.

Anticipation for the set was as widespread as it is for the release of the record, which will see an early April release. The indie rock community may have to hand Oberst over to the masses, though, because the voice quavers no more.

The 100-minute, 16-song set comprised mostly of newer songs pulled from the Four Winds EP, of which he played all six tracks. The folky, roots-rock and countrified sound for which Bright Eyes is known is beginning to mature. Oberst now sings on-key, his music is uniformly relevant and his lyrical content continues to metaphorically be political, personal and emotional all at once.

Two openers preceded Bright Eyes: A. Bondy, a solo artist with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica that made him sound like he was Oberst's protégé. His introduction was unique: "I'm six pellets into a mescaline trip," he said. "Let's see how this goes." He instantly had the small crowd's applause.

The second opener, Craig Wedren, is another singer/songwriter, but he had a band around him, though no one in attendance seemed to like him. He kept promoting himself as a "film" musician -- he writes scores for movies, such as "Reno 911: Miami." However, the crowd seemed not to care, his band's sound seemed both generic and unoriginal and his presence was unwelcome on the stage, as everyone was anticipating Bright Eyes.

Oberst has hired, for the first time, permanent members to join the band. Bright Eyes used to be a project that featured Oberst and included his friends from Omaha. The band now features: Daniel J. McCarthy on bass; Mike Mogis on banjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar and electric guitar; Anton Patzner on violin; and Maria Taylor on drums.

Bright Eyes' songs were all well-received by the capacity crowd. He played one track, "Make War," from his sprawling release Lifted.... Introduced as a "country song, though I'm not from the ??country,'" the song features a twang that far surpasses the level of his traditionally folk sound. In addition, he played some rarities, including a song from a split CD he did with Britt Daniel of Spoon called "Spent on Rainy Days," which was the heaviest song in the set.

Some of the quieter moments were aided by guest-musician M. Ward, who played a huge part in the EP, including singing credit on "Smoke Without Fire," with some speculating that he had a role in the songwriting on Four Winds. He came out and played on two tracks of the main set, and the entire three-song encore.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
piratasmuertas (March 11, 2007)

"Connor oberst is a poor man's leonard cohen."

I couldn't agree more. That being said, I think he's still decent.

Not nearly as interesting as "Fevers..." or "Lifted"

ConsequentialBanditry (March 10, 2007)

sorry. forgot setlist.

I Must Belong
Cartoon Blues
We Are Nowhere
Black Comedy
Make War
Crazy as a Loon
Four Winds
Reinvent The Wheel (w. M. Ward)
Smoke w/o Fire (M. Ward)
Stray Dog Freedom
Spent on Rainy Days
Old Soul Song

Encore: (all with M. Ward)
Soul Singer
Tourist Trap

Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

connor oberst is a poor man's leonard cohen.

Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

im pretty sure that the drummer was NOT maria taylor
since maria is on her own tour right now and just did a tour in st augustine florida yesterday
and neither is Dan McCarthy

and you forgot about jake bellows from neva dinova

red_eye_inc (March 9, 2007)

You're right, Shudder To Think were pretty good. Listening to his solo stuff is in my near future now that I know about it.

Infrarecon (March 9, 2007)

You may or may not care, but Craig was also the lead singer of Shudder to Think. They were an early Dischord band from DC who jumped to the majors around the same time as Jawbox. I haven't really heard his solo stuff but Shudder to Think were pretty good. Just a little tidbit.

kill_whitey (March 9, 2007)

In response to the Elvis/Left Alone...i hadn't heard about this before...so i did a little research...i came across this interview with the girl...the whole thing is really fucked up...it seems that all you would need to do to clear your name is to give a DNA sample...you should have done this back when there was an investigation if you were really innocent

I was somewhat disturbed when I read the mention of a rape swept under the table. Can you elaborate on that?

Yes. We had a day off before the Calgary show. Everyone from the tour was hanging out and drinking. I was drinking a little bit, but I can never drink a lot because it dries out my vocal chords. So I have a rule that when I??m out I will never drink more than two drinks. That??s just my way of keeping tabs on myself so I never blow it and end up not being able to sing the next day. Any vocalist will tell you they do that.

I was sitting on the steps playing guitar and around 11:00pm I went inside to go to the bathroom. When I was going back Hector from Epitaph waved me in to the bar and offered me a drink. I took it but I remember drinking it very slowly because that would be my last drink. I was also leaving it at the table and running around to talk to a million people, like an asshole. I was sitting at a table with a bunch of people from the tour who I was just meeting for the first time.

All of a sudden, I started to get sick and dizzy, and feeling like I couldn??t stand. I remember being worried about how I was going to get out of there and get back to Kristina. I don??t remember anything else. I woke up the next morning with pain and blood in my vagina. The tour had left, so I called a cab and when I got there, I told Kristina and we went to the hospital. I got a rape kit done, they found semen, hairs and 4 inch lacerations in my vagina. They were concerned and I was too, because a predator on the Warped Tour could hurt so many people.

They called in sex crime detectives, who were wonderful. I spent the next week trying to find out what happened subtly. I found out that sometime around 12 or 12:30am I was seen in the room belonging to Bedoin Soundclash, whom I was friendly with and thought they were good kids. In the room with me were most of a band called Left Alone. I was told by the people who saw me, Patrick from Bedouin Soundclash and Elvis from Left Alone, that I wasn??t drinking, seemed out of it and was complaining of my stomach hurting. I also found out that the room I had slept in was Elias and Sobe??s, who worked for Volcom. I never found out how I got from the bar upstairs and who had brought me there.

A week later my detectives called the production office looking to get statements from the people I found out had seen me. When that happened, Kevin Lyman, got involved and promised me that it was the most important thing and he didn??t tolerate rape and he would going to find this person. I told him everything I knew about the night.

Then he talked to Elvis from Left Alone, who apparently told him that I was wasted, and trying to have an orgy with his band when he saw me, and that I was sitting on his bed wear a short skirt being provocative. Elvis told everyone on the tour that I wanted it, in addition he refused to serve any of my friends at the nightly barbeque. The one time I tried to confront him about his lies, he cursed at me, spit at me, and told me if I didn??t shut my mouth, I would regret it.

After he did that I left because I was really truly scared of what they would do to me. I never felt safe. I never felt like is something else happened to me, beyond being raped, that anyone would step up and stop it. I lived in constant anxiety, nightmares, agoraphobia, and panic, which is normal for someone who has suffered rape, but was extremely exacerbated by the total lack of support from everyone except Dana and Kristina.

When I tried to go to the people I had thought were my friends for help, (Patrick and Eon from Bedouin Soundclash, Kurt and Hector from Epitaph, and anyone from Elvis?? band) they ignored me. Sobe who had been with Kristina the night I got raped, told us that his boss told all of them not to speak to any of us or answer any of our questions. He was scared to be seen with us.

Kevin Lyman also never talked to me once after our initial meeting. Because of that I assumed that the gag order had come down from him. But later he told me that it hadn??t. At the very end of tour, when I finally approached him, he told me that he had known the whole summer I was terrified and that I thought that he ordered everyone to not talk to me, but he waited until I asked him flat out to tell me that it wasn??t him. Even though he had known. After our initial meeting he never once contacted me or supported me in any way. At the end of the summer, he told me he didn??t do anything because there was nothing he could do. It was just a matter for the police. Never mind that it was a traveling tour and the crime happened in Canada.

To get the production office to cooperate with my detectives was like pulling teeth. When I left the tour after Elvis threatened me, one of Kevin??s assistants called me and told me that I owed it to Kevin to come back and not make a big deal about it because Kevin had paid me in room and board all summer. I eventually did go back because if I left and had taken the man power of my band with me, the Shira stage would not have made it through the summer.

Twice during the rest of the tour I arranged for police to come take blood samples from people on the tour. They took samples from every person whose name was in the report. But unfortunately since someone had told all of them not to talk about what they had seen, or who they had seen me with, we were unable to get blood samples from anyone that was actually considered a suspect. That was completely heartbreaking to me.

At the end of the summer, when Kevin heard me talking to a girl who worked in catering about what had happened, he came over and told me that I should know he really cares because in 4 years his daughter will be 14, and he is a feminist, that I should admit that he did everything he could to help me, and that if I am still feeling bad about it I should go see a psychiatrist when I get home.

If I were to truly explain to you how that made me feel, you would be left bleeding heavily in a bath of salt. That pain is something MY father has felt, my mother has felt when she still wakes me up from my nightmares weekly. It is a burden that will never ever be lifted from my beloved boyfriend, and my best friends in my band who have born the fallout.

I blame Kevin Lyman because unlike the person who drugged and raped me, he knows the difference between right and wrong, And unlike that person, Kevin was in a position of power. I definantly blame the rapist for his crime, but more than him I blame Kevin and Volcom and Epitaph, and everyone else who put money, and business over human decency. I blame everyone in a position of power who looked the other way and let the criminal get away with it.

Kevin Lyman claiming his concern for me on the life of his daughter has burned me since the words came out of his mouth. And if anyone asks me why I waged war on the entire United States of America over this issue, I will tell you right now. It is for her. Because her father was too weak.

Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

Mike Mogis has been part of Bright Eyes since letting off....

why does no one recognize this?


Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

Your first sentence reeks of idiotic arrogance. There is talent outside of NYC and LA, jackass.

red_eye_inc (March 9, 2007)

The Riv show will prbably have a more well-rounded setlist, this last tour is kind of an introduction to the new material. I saw him play an even weirder setlist at a way smaller place a few years ago. I'm sure that on a full tour of bigger venues the popular songs will be sprinkled into the set.

Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

I'm glad I didn't go to the Chicago show. I love Bright Eyes, but the best songs weren't even played.

No "Lover I Don't Have To Love", "Landlocked Blues", "Road To Joy", "First Day Of My Life"?


Maybe when they grace the Riv for two days there'll be a better set.

red_eye_inc (March 9, 2007)

It wasn't Maria Taylor playing drums it was Rachel Blumberg, who used to be in the Decemberists. I was at the show in Chicago, it sounds like it was a similar setlist. Here it is:

Four Winds
Reinvent the Wheel
Black Comedy
I'll Be Your Friend
Soul Singer In a Session Band
We Are Nowhere
Stray Dog Freedom
Spent On Rainy Days
Tourist Trap
Crazy As a Loon
I Must Belong
Cartoon Blues
Make War
Old Soul Song

If they're going to play songs I don't know, at least they played songs that nobody knew so we were all in the same boat.

threechordsandthetruth (March 9, 2007)

Less rape, more setlists.

Archangel (March 9, 2007)

I feel like this review is missing something...

Anonymous (March 9, 2007)

I know that everyone thinks that I'm the guy responsible for raping Calentura's singer at Warped last year, but someone in the comments section of the review of our latest split said that, actually, the rapist was "Sobe" of Volcom Entertainment, and that he's been tried and "locked up." Can anyone confirm the validity of this statement? Anyone?

Review in question: http://www.punknews.org/review/5712


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