Conor Oberst

support Dawes
author LF date 06/08/14 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

I have known of Conor Oberst's existence in this world for several years, but somehow I've never made it further into his discography than to the song "Lua", which I instantly fell in love with after stumbling across it during some late night in my teens. That song alone is what sparked my interest in coming to his near sold-out show at Amager Bio this evening, and I sit here now mostly satisfied with the experience – and not just because a particularly heartfelt version of said song was included in the set-list. Especially the songs released under his Bright Eyes moniker worked their magic tonight, and I'm certain to check them out in recorded form soon. But before I get further into why Oberst was mostly an impressive act, a few words on the support-band Dawes, who also played the role of backing-band for Oberst himself.

All pictures by Christian Søes

Dawes

I had only briefly checked out indie/folk rockers Dawes' newest record in preparation for their set tonight and yet one of the more catchy songs from it called "Most People" is ringing in my ears as I enter the venue. As it turns out this is the song Dawes have chosen to kick off their set, and as they strike their very first chord on stage I recognize it immediately. They play with a wonderfully warm sound that is also to be found on aforementioned record and since I was already in love with the song and it sounds every bit as good live, they win me over instantly. The band seem to be connecting with the other members of the audience just as quickly, and people up front are bobbing their heads and tapping their feet throughout. Out of the four band members on stage, only the bassist refrains from singing, and the resulting harmonies between vocalist/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith, drummer Griffin Goldsmith and keyboardist Tay Strathairn are magical, and serve to really knit their sound together. On top of this, the singing style of their vocalist is like that of a country singer, melancholically telling stories of lost love and other hardships of life in a sort of quirky lyrical language, and he underlines this mood with bluesy notes on his guitar which goes oddly well with the warm surrounding sound. Still, their music has a very innocent, some might say harmless feel to it due to his extremely clean and harmonic voice that articulates every word to the point of perfection, in stark contrast to the ways of the headliner tonight. The band comes off as genuinely cool guys on stage, and they seem extremely comfortable with their music as they play around with their songs by inserting solos in various places. The result is that they set a really good mood with their lush music, but also end up feeling sort of banal to me.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Most People
  • 2. Someone Will
  • 3. Time Spent in Los Angeles
  • 4. To Be Completely Honest
  • 5. When My Time Comes
  • 6. A Little Bit of Everything
  • 7. From a Window Seat
  • 8. Fire Away

Conor Oberst

The sound of the music as Oberst starts out with the first couple of songs from his recently released solo album "Upside Down Mountain", is understandably similar in warmth to what we just heard from Dawes. Overall though, the cracked and emotional vocal delivery of Oberst gives an entirely different depth to the expression as he sings his melancholic and somewhat cold lyrics while surrounded by the warm music and warm lighting. This is well in keeping with the style of his aforementioned latest release, which similarly combines a folky indie rock approach with Oberst's widely hailed lyrical abilities. The members of Dawes continue singing spot-on harmonies and this really gives substance to Oberst's songs and makes for a wonderful backing throughout the show for his somewhat coarser and less melodically clean approach to singing.

A little more than half the set-list of tonight consists of songs released under the Bright Eyes name, and different faces in the crowd light up almost zealously at different times during the show as they obviously recognize old favorites. As such the fans here tonight seem extremely dedicated and it's really no wonder because Conor Oberst strikes an impressive figure on stage. It seems to me that he performs exactly the way you'd hope as a fan and expect if you'd only heard the hype, successfully combining a genuine engagement in the songs he plays with a professional attitude that ultimately gives him a sort of humble star quality. The expression that he has perfected is engaging throughout, leaving me with no obvious low-points of the show. Even though a two-hour set could begin to bore the uninitiated listener, the intelligent lyrics are clearly articulated and thus there's always an interesting story to listen to even when the music might start sounding very similar at some points in the set. Luckily Oberst changes this up once in a while with cleverly placed breaks in the music that leaves his voice with more space in the overall sound, and also by sometimes playing a keyboard instead of a guitar. The high-points of the show for me clutter towards the end in the form of the wonderfully ominous and intense "Lover I Don't Have To Love", an absolutely heart-breaking version of "Poison Oak" and finally "Lua" as the first song of the encore. The latter is played with only Dawes' Goldsmith as backing, and his addition of little bluesy guitar licks in combination with Oberst's way of cracking up the rhythmic flow of the verses makes for a very special experience. However, I could really have done without a verse sung entirely by Goldsmith, as his extremely clean, soft and warm voice just doesn't do justice to a line like "We might die from medication, but we sure killed all the pain". Overall, the best moments tonight are the ones where the musical backing leaves the most space for Oberst's voice to fill out, "Lua" being a brilliant example, but when the songs in the low end of an artist's live-show are of as high a quality as Oberst's, there's really not a lot to be directly dissatisfied with.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Time Forgot
  • 2. Zigzagging Toward the Light
  • 3. We Are Nowhere And It's Now (Bright Eyes song)
  • 4. Hundreds of Ways
  • 5. Hit the Switch (Bright Eyes song)
  • 6. Enola Gay
  • 7. Old Soul Song (For the New World Order) (Bright Eyes song)
  • 8. Artifact #1
  • 9. Soul Singer in a Session Band (Bright Eyes song)
  • 10. Get-Well-Cards
  • 11. Danny Callahan
  • 12. Bowl of Oranges (Bright Eyes song)
  • 13. Ladder Song (Bright Eyes song)
  • 14. If the Brakeman Turns My Way (Bright Eyes song)
  • 15. Lover I Don't Have To Love (Bright Eyes song)
  • 16. Desert Island Questionnaire
  • 17. Poison Oak (Bright Eyes song)
  • 18. I Got the Reason #2

- Encore

  • 19. Lua (Bright Eyes song)
  • 20. June on the West Coast (Bright Eyes song)
  • 21. Another Travelin' Song (Bright Eyes song)

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.