Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band @ Metro – Tues. 7/14

Tuesday night’s show served as a reminder to me of how far superior a record the debut solo album Conor Oberst is in comparison to this year’s Outer South.

The night’s highlights were without a doubt the more stripped down numbers. One came early in the set in the form of “Cape Canaveral.” Later, it was an acoustic Oberst and keyboardist Nate Walcott doing a barebones arrangement of “Lenders In The Temple.” These focused moments were a pleasure. The bigger blowouts like “Spoiled” (painfully Phish/jam bandy guitar line) and show closer “Roosevelt Room” (earnest rugged anthem) simply don’t work.

As per usual (at Bright Eyes shows) there was a Tiger Beat element to the audience with their countless salvos of “I love you Conor” and more disturbingly, a young man yelling “Get my sister pregnant!” Flashbulbs however were at a minimum as signs throughout Metro proclaimed, “Per artist request no flash photography.”

Oberst seemed to be happy and having fun onstage, more so than on the Cassadaga tour when he was sporting much longer hair and all white suits. On Tuesday it didn’t take long for him to shed his leather jacket in the ultra-steamy Metro. The Mystic Valley Band has good chops but as creators of new material, this project may well have run its course. I had to reverse my gag reflex during the slurping intro by a WXRT personality with the typical Oberstisms about being wise beyond his years blah blah blah. I am ready for him to deliver on his earlier promise and outgrow pandering to the adolescent masses.

The biggest travesty propagated on my ears last night was having to endure two songs (“Air Mattress” and “Snake Hill”) sung by guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth, whose voice is the sound of inhaled helium à la Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo, but in the worst imaginable way. In total there were four songs in which lead vocals were handled by someone other than Oberst. These songs came from Outer South which portends to be more of a proper band album, but Oberst is the draw and while album tracks are fine, I for one didn’t really want to hear the sidemen sing live.

Next up for Oberst is Monsters Of Folk, which is a band comprised of himself, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward and Mike Mogis. Their self-titled record will be released on September 22, 2009.

Setlist:

Moab
Spoiled
Sausalito
Nikorette
Cape Canaveral
Danny Callahan
NYC – Gone, Gone
Souled Out
Ten Women
Get-Well-Cards
Big Black Nothing
One Of My Kind
Air Mattress
Lenders In The Temple
I Don’t Want To Die (In A Hospital)
*Encore
Snake Hill
Eagle On A Pole
Difference Is Time
Roosevelt Room

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