Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bright Eyes and Oakley Hall @ The State Theater

Bright Eyes officially ushered in spring last night at the State Theatre. The stage was filled with flowerbeds and a wonderful array of flowers, the band was all dressed to the nines in all white, and the band played with enough energy and conviction to make everyone in attendance forget about the cold days gone by. Frontman and chief songwriter Conor Oberst, usually content to play his songs with his friends and have fun, has transformed, in his advanced age of only 27, into a Bandleader, instructing his wonderful band of changes and progressions, and daring them to keep up with his frantic pace. And what a band he has-a point Conor pointed out at least three times during the show(calling them ‘such an attractive band he’s embarrassed to get dressed in front of them’)-former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss on drums, as well as a six piece string/woodwind/brass band that added a wonderfully delicate energy to the songs. The band was rounded out with another guitar player, bass, keyboards and an additional percussionist(sorry, but I haven’t figured out their names yet.) Adding to the atmosphere of the evening, was a visual artist that projected his creations from the Balcony Box onto the screen behind the stage-everything from watercolors and jumbled shapes bouncing along to the beat, to tearing flowers along with the lyrics to ‘Make A Plan To Love Me’ and using an Etch-A-Sketch to compliment ‘False Advertising’, he provided a wonderful in-the-moment touch to the show. In all the different amalgamations of Bright Eyes that I have seen, whether Conor is playing solo, with M. Ward, with The Faint, or with a different backing band, this was the strongest, most assured performance I have seen. He drove these songs forward with an intensity that was palpable, and his band had no choice but to follow. The new songs were given a depth live by the band that was lacking on the new record ‘Cassadaga’, and the older songs, especially ‘First Day Of My Life’ were given a fresh reworking that made me think the Dylan comparisons that Conor often suffers from are not too far from the mark. There was a funky, almost samba like feel to the songs as well, as ‘The Calender Hung Itself’ sounded downright Latin due to the conga drumming of the second percussionist-causing Conor to joke that ‘we are going to start all of our songs with the conga drum now.’ Conor showed a lot of love for Minneapolis as well-his tour manager is from here(and a brother of the owner of the 400 Bar), saying ‘I Love this city, and I’m not just saying that’ and proceeding to list his favorite people from Minneapolis-Paul Westerberg being at the top. I was worried that the show would be a shambles like the tour opener in Milwaukee(read the review on the MuzzleOfBees blog here) and that Connor would be a drunken mess, and while he was definitely getting his drink on(I counted at least 7 beers and one glass of what he claimed was Tequilla) the show was solid and full of life. Only on the discordant set closer ‘Road To Joy’ with it’s extended, feedback and guitar-lacedwailing did the drunkenness come through, but Conor made up for the noise by picking flowers and giving them to the fans in the front row, a litlle something they can take home to remind them that Spring has sprung, and we have Conor and his band to thank for speeding the process along.
-Erik T(English Major)

Setlist -
Clairaudients (Kill Or Be Killed)
Hot Knives
No One Would Riot For Less
False Advertising
I Believe In Symmetry
First Day Of My Life
Classic Cars
The Calendar Hung Itself
Gold Mine Gutted
Lime Tree
Make A Plan To Love Me
Four Winds
Road To Joy
Thanks again Erik for another great review. Erik and I will be covering Air and Amy Winehouse May 2nd!!!!!!! Stay ready for those.. He'll be at Air and I'll be at Amy..