Seeing Conor Oberst

Ten years ago or so, when Bright Eyes was touring for I’m Wide Awake/Digital Ash, I was about thirteen and totally oblivious. I find this very unfair, looking back. The odds of me (as the person I was then) being in a place where I would have been receptive to the wonder of Bright Eyes were slim, had I discovered their existence. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked. Taste was a thing of the future, something I was still developing. I wish I could say I was a savvy teen, but I was most certainly not and my taste in music was inadequate to say the least. I didn’t have a cool older sibling or a friend that smoked cigarettes and listened to obscure rock music to take me under their wing. The timing did not work out for me. I didn’t get into Conor’s music until much, much later. And so it was that I found myself on Friday night, clutching the bar in the very front of the House of Blues, inches from the stage, hardly containing my excitement to see the man himself on his solo tour.

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Conor Oberst has a mysterious appeal for me. His moody, poignant music is the kind of stuff that gets my blood pumping: exciting, devastating poetry, just the right amounts of angry and sad, upbeat when it’s appropriate, slow and steady when necessary, all with that signature, unmistakable voice. I get it’s not for everyone, but it is definitely for me. I am perpetually sad that sixteen-year-old Jordan never found this stuff. She would have LOVED it. She would have been obsessed. The thing I like most about Conor’s work is that it makes me feel like a teenager again. His music makes me feel a frantic enthusiasm that’s difficult to rekindle these days. I like that feeling.

So when I was waiting in this rowdy crowd for a musician I found more legend than man, I was losing my mind with anticipation. It was great. It was a really great show. He played some new stuff. He played some old stuff. He played some solo stuff and some Bright Eyes stuff. I sang. I danced. I stared adoringly. It was so surreal to actually see him in person. I know I probably sound like a loon, but I’ve built him up into such a larger than life character in my head. His story from Omaha to now is a fascinating one; he was this boy genius, this amazing lyricist and musician at such a young age. When I think of all he’s achieved, it makes me want to weep. He started Bright Eyes when he was like fifteen and it’s been all uphill, musically, from there (with some personal dark patches). It was something else to actually see him performing, singing and playing that music I’ve learned to love so well. I think my favorite song that night was Lover I Don’t Have to Love. That was an unexpected surprise of awesomeness.

Would I see him again? Absolutely. I’m going to see Desaparecidos in August. I would still kill to see Bright Eyes. My friends assure me seeing Bright Eyes is a lot like seeing Conor playing solo except they might play more songs from Lifted, less solo stuff, and Mike Mogis would be there. All in all, that sounds pretty good to me.

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I managed to snag the setlist, which I’m pretty psyched about. It was an excellent night. Can’t wait to do it all again and soon.

Until next time!


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