Better Oblivion Community Center - Live in Los Angeles (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Better Oblivion Community Center

Live in Los Angeles (2019)

live show

Thursday night, Better Oblivion Community Center delivered a truly magical experience to Los Angeles.

While I missed Christian Lee Hutson (who is also a member of BOCC), I did get there in time to see Sloppy Jane. What an enticingly strange act they were. With ten people (including multiple strings and two women on stage I couldn't see), frontwoman Haley Dahl made sure she remained the focal point with blue paint dripping from her mouth. The musicians were tight, but Dahl’s spoken-sung vocal delivery was something I admittedly have a soft spot for. The band played through what I can only assume were sections of a bigger story which included the line, "Are you potato or are you meat?"

Better Oblivion Community Center took the stage at 11PM. They began with album opener “Didn’t Know What I Was in For” and played just over an hour. Their set started with nine songs off their self-titled LP and a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Phoebe Bridgers can do no wrong right now (from excellent debut to supergroup boygenius to BOCC) and it was easy to see why. She was charming and personable on stage, acting as the spokeswoman for the group. She seemed genuinely happy to there. At one point, she reminisced about the leader of Sloppy Jane making fun of her in high school for being a Conor Oberst fan. While they split the spotlight, Oberst was more reserved, happy to play the idolized elder statesman. That being said, over two decades into his eclectic career, he sounded incredible.

There is never a bad time to hear “Lua,” and in a space as intimate as Teragram Ballroom, it was a special moment. Bridgers and Oberst switched off verses, the younger artist clearly a fan of the song. It gave me chills. But it was Oberst’s heavy cover of Bridgers' “Funeral” that really made for a spectacle. The original is slow and stripped down, while Oberst’s was anything but, reminiscent of his time with Desaparecidos. Oberst absolutely rips when given the space. BOCC closed their proper set with Bright Eyes track “Easy/Lucky/Free” only to return minutes later for Bridgers' “Scott Street” (with Sloppy Jane) and "Dominoes." Nick Zinner also played on a few songs including earlier highlight “Dylan Thomas.”

While never really acknowledging Better Oblivion Community Center by name, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst excelled live, even debuting a new track, “Little Trouble.” If it turns out BOCC only have this one-time release cycle, I’m glad I got to experience it firsthand.