Bright Eyes did a fantastic job at remaining authentic and appreciative through the show.
It’s not often an opening band can contend with, or even outshine, the headlining band, however, June 6th’s Dawes and Bright Eyes show proved this feat wrong. The Monday night show was Dawes’ first show of their short stint opening for and touring along with Bright Eyes – not to mention that a few hours after the show (at 12:30a Tuesday morning, to be exact) Dawes was playing in support of their newest album Nothing is Wrong, to be released publicly on June 7th. Thanks to Dawes recording their albums in analog form, the quartet has mastered the art of performing live cohesively and as flawless as possible. Their set was created with fans in mind, wrapping their arms around old fans and handshaking the new ones. Every member of the band played their hearts out and regardless of if it was for the benefit of performance or for fans, drummer Griffin Goldsmith battered his drums and his brother, singer Taylor, sang his brutally honest, emotional lyrics in a strong tenor that resonated with every audience member.
Giving ample time for the crowd to socially lubricate themselves with whiskey and PBR, Bright Eyes took the stage about 25 minutes after Dawes to a rousing and piercing cry from the sold out crowd. Not sure what to expect – the edgy and moody emo teen, the political soap-box speech giver, the neo-folk king, Conor Oberst tried his best to give everyone the best of each side to him. Oberst’s setlist was back loaded in that most songs were from albums that date back a whopping six years or less. It should also be noted that this current tour is the first proper tour since Oberst released his latest album, The People’s Key, his seventh full length studio album, so it was to be expected Bright Eyes would be featuring many of these newer songs like “Haile Selassie”, “Jejune Stars” and “Shell Games”.
Oberst didn’t entirely disappoint his audience members anticipating some older material, though. It’d be easy (but somewhat lazy) to say that Oberst snuffed his older fans, as not only did he perform a few pre-2005 anthems like “Bowl of Oranges”, “Something Vague”, “The Calendar Hung Itself”, even included “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” in his encore but it was evident that Oberst and his musicians haven’t gotten stale or lost any relevance. Seeing Bright Eyes at this point in his career, touring on a new album with a more polished and less angsty agenda, may have disappointed the early fan but it was obvious that Oberst and crew have upheld great musicianship and put on a tight, exciting show. Luckily, much of the crowd bought everything Conor was selling throughout the night, new and old. Fans all over the Pageant were screaming along to the words, air drumming, swaying and some looked to have an out and out religious experience. Bright Eyes did a fantastic job at remaining authentic and appreciative through the show, including when he came out in to the crowd.
Originally posted at Playback:STL, June 16, 2011.