You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band's 13-year career.

Cast:
Band: Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott, Andy LeMaster, Laura Burhenn, Clark Baechle, Scott MacPherson. Superchunk and Wild Flag also performed.

Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, learned to convey sweeping messages without adopting a lecture-hall stance and found a way to incorporate post-modern electronics while retaining the coffeehouse folksiness that imbued his earliest work.

This sold out perf was partially a welcome-back event (since Oberst had put the band on hiatus back in 2007) and partially a farewell (since he’s implied the recently released Saddle Creek set “The People’s Key” was something of a last hurrah). As such, the band traversed a good many of its releases over the course of its two hours on stage – bringing the older material into this decade with new arrangements that added some welcome swing, while occasionally erring on the side of excess.

When Oberst and company got the balance right, the results were positively galvanizing, as on soaring versions of “Falling Out of Love at This Volume” and “We Are Nowhere and It Is Now,” both of which revolved around carefully-hewn riffs strung between crisp, neo-martial rhythms. The latter element sometimes bulled too far to the fore – as on an over-driven rendition of the new “Jejeune Stars” – combining with the gaudy light show to bring back memories of arena-rock’s bad old days.

But far more often, the band settled into a convivial mood, cranking up the volume and energy with precious little in the way of posturing. That helped emphasize the communal vibe of the new album’s title song – a prescient plea for economic and emotional equanimity – and the encore-anchoring live staple “Road to Joy,” on which Oberst’s cohorts readily obliged the mid-song exhortation to “fuck it up and make some noise.”

The openers both brought plenty to the table as well. Wild Flag, an indie super-group of sorts, created a hypnotic vibe by shaking and stirring the angular post-punk structures of Sleater-Kinney (the one-time home to guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss) and the free-form psychedelia that guitarist Mary Timony favored in her former band, Helium.

Elder statesmen Superchunk thrashed out nine songs – evenly divided between vintage favorites and tracks from last fall’s “Majesty Shredding” — in a breathless 40 minutes. The quartet’s ability to convey, 20 years on, the sort of wonderment built into these versions of “Detroit Has a Skyline” and “Seed Toss,” was a joy to behold.

Bright Eyes

Radio City Music Hall; 5,904 seats; $49.50 top.

Production: Presented by Bowery Presents. Reviewed March 8th, 2011.

Cast: Band: Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott, Andy LeMaster, Laura Burhenn, Clark Baechle, Scott MacPherson. Superchunk and Wild Flag also performed.

More Music

  • Bruno Mars Solange

    Solange, Bruno Mars Lead BET Soul Train Award Nominees

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

  • Sexual Harassment in Music Business

    Former Music Executive: 'We Must Come Forward and Name Our Abusers' (Guest Column)

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

  • The Four Fox

    Fox Enlists iHeartMedia to Boost Musical Competition 'The Four'

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

  • Steven Victor

    Steven Victor Appointed EVP and Head of A&R at Def Jam (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

  • Robb McDaniels

    Robb McDaniels Named CEO of Beatport

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

  • ACM Awards Winners List

    See Kelsea Ballerini Play Her Hit ‘Legends’ Acoustically (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has always been adept at walking fine lines, and he traversed a number of them at this, the biggest Gotham show in the band’s 13-year career. He’s managed to master the fine art of commanding a large stage, but has yet to sacrifice the rec-room intimacy of his earliest performances, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content