I closed my eyes and listened. It was just for a minute. The chatter around me was very prominent at first but then it faded… Conor grew louder and sweeter and my ears opened wide. “And they went wild…” He sang building it up note by note until he screamed “And they went wild.” I think some of us were melting. The room was filled with 20 and 30-somethings who had likely loved Bright Eyes since they were in their teens. We went wild – in our hearts and in our minds. I was 18 when I bought I’m wide awake, it’s morning. That was 2005. I’ve waited almost a decade to finally see some of the songs performed live. I used to lay in my room and close my eyes, mouthing the words the those songs. I went wild.
Conor Oberst was breathtaking and beautiful. A highly respected artist who has provided a generational soundtrack of great emo-folk-rock songs that are depressing and uplifting at the same time. His 21-song set was tremendously complete with peaks and valleys, nostalgia and discovery. However, I encourage you to take a moment to notice the very talented band Dawes, who played a near hour-long opening set before they backed Conor up throughout his entire hour and a half set.
I saw on a setlist from a few days ago and Conor played “Poison Oak” in North Carolina. I didn’t dare yell out my request; I respected him too much to deem him a jukebox. Instead, I hoped. He builds up such an incredible energy that is literally bursting at its seams as it nears the end of that amazing song. I’m talking about the part where the drums come in. “Me I’m a single cell, on a serpents tongue, there’s a muddy field where the garden was, and I’m you got away, but I’m still stuck out here! My clothes are soaking wet, from your brothers tears…”
I’m so grateful that I get to see some of my favorite artists at venues that are a ten minute walk away from my home. I’m so grateful that I even know how great these artists really are. I discovered my favorite singer/songwriter – Rocky Votolato – because my friend Lindsay gave me a CD that she loved in 2004.
“If you love something, give it away” is always a line I recite in my head and at times, aloud. It means a lot to me, strangely . We’re often so selfish to keep the things we love so much. It hurts to even write this, but we should give away the things we love. We are so fortunate to have that person, place, or thing we love so much for a temporary time. Everything is temporary. Why not give it to someone else? If it’s a significant other who finds love elsewhere, let them go. If it’s a CD that you’re in love with, give it to a stranger. (If it’s money that you love, well, then you’re fucked.) In return, maybe you’ll receive something someone else loved… Think about it.
Conor was smiling and seemed happy through his set. “This is a quiet one; a kinda sentimental one. I’ll probably look like a big pussy or something.” He joked between songs. He played a mix of Bright Eyes songs, solo songs, and Conor Obertst & The Mystic Valley Bands Songs. Yeah, I went wild by myself as Conor did the same.
Conor said “I wrote this song after I stood outside the Republican National Convention in New York. I watched the crowd get arrested by these huge orange nets.” That was an incredible visual for me. He began the song that we all “went wild” to – “Old Soul Song (For a New World Order).” – but in a different way. We didn’t swallow any police or push through the barricades but we did swallow our breath and pushed our bodies side to side. Here’s a song that’s easy to get lost to, close your eyes and have a listen.
“Pretend that you were stranded on a desert island What would be the message that you’d spell out for the plane? Say the engine failed when that plane was flying If you were the pilot would you curse or would you pray?”
I fell in love with a song I’ve never heard before “Desert Island Questionnaire.” It was really beautiful, upbeat, and introspective. I was inspired to look the song up when I arrived home and I did. And I’m glad I did. It’s a new song off of his new album which comes out May 19. Check this shit out for yourself, Conor Oberst “Desert Island Questionnaire.” It’s a shitty video but the audio is Ok.
After playing for nearly an hour and a half, Conor came back out for an encore and played three more songs. The second to last was “Another Travelin’ Song” and one of my favorites. I caught part of this and posted it to Shows I Go To Instagram.
“Now I’m hunched over a typewriter I guess you call that painting in a cave And there’s a word I can’t remember And a feeling I cannot escape And now my ashtray’s overflowing I’m still staring at a clean white page Oh and morning’s at my window She is sending me to bed again”
He ended his set with a Conor Oberst &The Mystic Valley Band song from their 2009 release Outer South entitled “Roosevelt Room.” Conor rocked out so fucking hard during this song that he knocked his half-stack amp over toward the end. Conor has a delicate, often shaky voice but he proved that he knows how to rock the fuck out! Here’s a shitty pic of him blowing us kisses at the end of his set with his amp knocked over behind him next to the drum set: