With much buzz floating around the internet after two surprise appearances with The Felice Brothers, there was no way we were going to miss out on the chance of seeing Nebraska’s very own Conor Oberst play a set with an amazing set of musicians as a backing band. The suspense in the Echo built up as fast as the tiny venue filled with fans. What set of songs would he be playing? Would it be a set of new songs or the Bright Eyes classics that haven’t been played in so long? After coming on stage with an 11-song setlist, we were about to find out.
The doe-eyed Oberst would come to the stage just after nine with a few members of The Felice Brothers as a backing band and immediately break into a dreary rendition of “Laura Laurent.” It wouldn’t take long for the cracking voice of Oberst to ask for everybody to join along in the drunken la’s. The crowd would get to join in plenty more as this set would be a Bright Eyes heavy set but leaning towards the later parts. “Four Winds”, “Poison Oak” and “Train Underwater” all showed that he wanted every fan to flash a smile at least once. Even he did.
Looking refreshed to be playing live shows with some new friends, Oberst even joked to the audience, “I am sure there are a lot of actors here in the crowd. I have a few offers on the table…” as he droned off and into “Method Acting.” It all turned to a messy jam with a handful of people on stage filling the venue with a gazed Americana feel.
The Felice Brothers, who many already knew were going to bring the twang, were an interesting act to watch. While the band was really animated onstage, what the band was doing musically was often a mixed bag. With four different members taking lead, it was more of a free for all on stage without any true leader. This anarchy was reflected in the songs which ranged from watered down Flogging Molly leftovers to more upbeat shoe stomping southern blues. The only time the band truly seemed to be on the same page is when Conor would rejoin them on stage and take the lead. He would do this a few times throughout the night, almost helping the band from falling off the track.
Even though the headliners were The Felice Brothers, Oberst is the one who stole the show. The intimacy of the night was truly reminiscent of an early Bright Eyes show. It was a night where the often uncomfortable Connor let everyone see the inner workings of his emotions through the frightening snarls and broken vocals that he so elegantly allowed a few to experience.
Check our photos out below!
Photography by Carl Pocket