Having arrived in town on a Sunday towards the end of summer and the beginning of the school-year for many; Bright Eyes brought their melancholy and angsty folk sounds to the 5k+ Santa Barbarians at the County Bowl - Southern California's equivalent of Red Rocks. This time out on the road, front-man Conor Oberst & band preformed a quintessential sampling of more-albums-than-I-can-keep-track-of, though featured their latest release The People's Key, and delivered another solid set of indie-folk/rock tunes.
Opening the night with the happily-disturbing yet optimistic "At the Bottom of Everything," and following up with "Four Winds," their catchy tune questioning organized religion; the band had the audience mesmerized from the first note. Representing the audience was a wide age-range of fans, from those too young to drive, to those nearly too old. This definitely spoke to the universal themes that the good Mr.Oberst covered in some of his songs: pain, redemption, heartache & joy.
The band's line-up for this tour included it's staple musicians: Conor Oberst on vocals/guitar (of course), Bright Eyes' notable producer Mike Mogis on guitar, and arranger Nate Wolcott on trumpet/etc, as well as other indie impresarios such as Andy LeMaster on bass, Laura Burhenn from The Mynabirds on vocals/keyboards/accordion, and Clark Baechle of The Faint on drums.
From “Take it Easy” and “I Believe in Symmetry” off of the album Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, to the poignant lyrics of “Land Locked Blue” which reveals the personal and insightful lyrics: “If you walk away, I’ll walk away – First tell me which road you will take.” Oberst further showed his development as a songwriter and storyteller with other high points, including ones from their new album The People's Key. Most notably, the stirring and thoughtful lyrics of "Shell Games," in which he emotes the ubiquitously familiar sentiment "My private life is an inside joke - No one will explain it to me."
Rounding out the night with a few encore tunes; the band preformed a heartfelt cover of Gillian Welch's song "Wrecking Ball," and closed out with the electro-folk sounds of "One For You, One For Me." By the end of the set, the entranced audience was speechless from Bright Eyes' impressive compositional, lyrical and emotional stimuli; making the evening a most memorable one...
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