SHOW PREVIEW: Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst is coming to town. Love him or hate him, he’ll be playing two nights – May 23rd and May 24th, just a few days after the release of his newest solo work Upside Down Mountain. Produced in Nashville, the record itself features the backing vocals of First Aid Kit’s charming Söderberg sisters. Special guests Dawes are set to open.
As a shrill 12 year old, Conor Oberst played his first show in the musically bountiful Omaha, Nebraska, strumming that guitar hard. His work, now spanning over two decades, is vast: Commander Venus, Desaparecidos, The Faint, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, a slew of solo records, and the most beloved - Bright Eyes. There’s always Bright Eyes, isn’t there?
In addition to Upside Down Mountain, Oberst is deftly making use of Record Store Day this April, with two 7 inches up for grabs. The first features “Hundreds of Ways,” off his upcoming release and “Friends,” which didn’t quite make the cut. If you’ve got tickets to this show, you will need to pick up the Dawes/Oberst split. The record includes a Dawes recording of “Easy/Lucky/Free” (from Oberst’s 2005 Digital Ash in a Digital Urn), and Oberst covering “Million Dollar Bill” (from Dawes’ 2011 Nothing is Wrong). The Laurel Canyon band, coming off their 2013 Stories Don’t End, has long since played alongside Oberst. Following their set, they will return to the stage as his backing band.
Did the music of Conor Oberst and his buddy, Mike Mogis, get you through high school, as folks often claim? Or maybe Fevers and Mirrors; Lifted…; I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning got you through college. Or this winter. Or yesterday. If you’ve never seen him live, you really should. His performances tend to pack a lot of energy, shifting lights, heat –disproving that sad-bastard repute. There’s almost always a nice cover, too (“The Biggest Lie” -Elliott Smith; “Devil Town” -Robert Johnson; “Walls” -Tom Petty; “Mushaboom” -Feist). Still bummed I missed the 2003 night, in my own home town, when a severely-annoyed Conor climbed atop his band’s van with an acoustic guitar. The power inside had been cut in accordance with some bogus curfew and so he stormed outside to play in the parking lot of the now-disbanded Newport Music Hall. He got through one song before the fuzz shut him down.
Say what you will about the man. I keep coming back.