Writer/Photographer: Amanda Lomax
Conor Oberst – The Politician? It’s a stretch for the indie singer-songwriter, I know, but, when you’ve been living in DC for several years the lines between performance, entertainment, and politics begin to blur. Oberst’s Bright Eyes‘ show at the 930 Club gave me pause to think that, as a showman, the man rivals DC’s best in terms of charismatic appeal. Even the title of his recent release, People’s Key, sets a democratic tone in the World Capital of Democracy. It’s been said, “A great politician knows his environment and adjusts accordingly,” and Oberst’ carefully crafted set list shows he is paying attention to the nuances of his constituency. A beautifully choreographed tableaux of material evenly gleaned from his past 5 1/2 albums, which like Washington DC itself, certainly had something for everyone. Professional and pressed in his button-down, Oberst led his own Music Party to victory over the Nation’s Capital one rocker/folkster/hipster vote at a time.
The show opened with forced energy on “Another Travelin Song”, “Old Soul Song”, and “Four Winds,” and a sleepy Oberst had barely opened his eyes to the crowd. Tour burnout or a chip on his shoulder? Quickly though, folky favorite “Bowl of Oranges” focused the band. A guitar lick screamed “Kick It” straight from the Beastie Boys, “Fight for Your Right”, then a big inhale, and Oberst raised his electric guitar above his head and shook it to heavy strobes on “Hot Knives” and “Take it Easy Love Nothing”. The crowd bought-in and Oberst addressed his first electorate: the rockers.
A beautiful trumpet solo led by Nate Walcott, then gave entree to “Landlocked Blues,” and invited the folkies, especially the lady-folkies to the show. The pretty folk song morphed into an anti-government anthem. “If you’re still free start running away / Cause we’re coming for you!” The ladies swooned.
Having won over the ladies, Oberst amped up the testosterone. Oberst gave a shout-out to the eldest of the two beautiful Swedish sisters of opening act First Aid Kit by way of invitation, “she’s 18 – she’s packing heat,” to the cheers of the guys. Walcott’s trumpet turned oddly jazzy before disappearing into a masculine “Lover I Don’t Have to Love,” and the edgy mood continued through “Shell Games” with Oberst repeatedly shouting “show me the money DC!” Finishing up the manly segment, Oberst dropped a nice F-bomb for good measure as he introduced “Time Code”: “This one’s for all of you who think their fucking i-shits will save them.” The boy-hipsters went wild. Then he deftly cleared the stage save for himself and his guitar, and strongly, sweetly talked through “First Day of My Life,” a fave across all genres.
The show had been perfectly nice – but almost forgettable – up to this point. So as if to channel forgettable, dead President Martin Van Buren, Bright Eyes threw a fantastic curve ball. Highlighting DC darling Laura Burhenn, they covered a 2003 Gillian Welch song, “Wrecking Ball.” A gospel organ masterfully played by Nate Walcott, a sweet duet with Laura’s vocals, electric guitar, and a wholesome vocals echoed Rolling Stones-style blues at its best.
Encore downshifted. With a proverbial rolling up of the sleeves, Oberst shed his button down for a teeshirt and became a Man of the People. Burhenn played on the squeezebox, and smiles abounded. During this feel-good romp, few noticed a truly Nixonian move: cue cards brought to stage to ensure Oberst “remembered” all the words to “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves.” The crowd was happily paid no mind. Oberst then indulged a good ten minutes in true Cheney form, lauding and thanking his band Halliburton-style. Ever the Common Man, Oberst then turned back to his fans: shaking hands as he finished the encore, with “Road to Joy” and “One For You, One For Me.”
Just after a lovely stage dive, Bright Eyes exited the stage. But, not before taking special care to wave to each section of the club one by one. Slowly, deliberately he made eye contact with every last fan. as if to say, “Thank you my plebes – I know I can count on your support.” After a show like Sunday’s, he probably can.
Conor Oberst and Co. bust out the pyrotechnics for their latest video which premiered yesterday. The tune, “Jejune Stars” is a rocking standout from their early 2011 release, The People’s Key. The new video was directed by Lance Acord, the cinematographer of Lost in Translation and Where the WIld Things Are. Check out the new video in all of it’s sparkly glory below:
We made it, Episode two of the MOR New Tunes series! Critics are already calling the latest version “One of the Best two MOR New Tunes Playlists to date”. That is an honor that we don’t take lightly.
This latest episode features new music by newcomers The Civil Wars and Tennis, Alt-Country mainstays Ryan Adams, Drive-By Truckers, Ryan Bingham and Justin Townes Earle, and an appearance by the legendary Gregg Allman by way of T-Bone Burnett. Other great tunes come from the likes of Iron & Wine, Hayes Carll, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Smith Westerns, The Get up Kids, Bright Eyes, The Tallest Man on Earth and Lykke Li.
Hop in and enjoy some fresh new tunes.
Don’t have Spotify? Do yourself a favor and download it, it’s free and quite wonderful. Why don’t you follow us while you’re at it?
Between recording a new album, side projects with the Mystic Valley Band & Monsters of Folk, and protesting immigration laws, Conor Oberst has had quite a busy run. Hopefully the hard work pays off on his latest album, The People’s Key. The new disc is described as “largely experimental and conceptual”, and promises to be a departure from the folk and country style songs of Oberst’s latest projects. Sink or swim, you have a few weeks to cast your own verdict with a free album stream from NPR. The People’s Key is streaming it’s entirety until it’s February 15th release date.
Have an hour to kill in front of the computer (or internet TV)? Then check out our favorite supergroup, the Monsters of Folk live on Austin City Limits. Jim James, M. Ward and the gang turn in a rock solid 12 song set in the lonestar state capital. Having never before seen MOF’s live show, I was pretty impressed. It is one thing to pull together in the studio, but its really great to see so many talented individuals work so well together as a whole on stage. Watch the video, or just stream it for the sound, either way it’s an hour well spent.
The letter I is a man of mystery, he says what he means but you’re never quit sure who he’s talking about, he prefers to stand alone but can do more with an S or a T than anyone, his words might be short but his impact is never diminished due to a strict less is more policy, he’s all around you but is barely noticed as he slips in and out of words like a ninja. Is it you? Is it me? No, it’s I. Today we salute the ninth and arguably most versatile letter in the alphabet with a killer playlist inspired by no other than I.
Portland, Oregon indie rockers Blitzen Trapper have announced the follow up to 2008′s Furr. The new album Destroyer of the Void, will be released on June 8th, just in time for summer. The album will be released on Sub Pop records and was produced by Mike Coykendall, who has also recently worked with Bright Eyes and M. Ward.
The band has released the first track from the album “Heaven and Earth”, and made it available for free download on their website. The track is a slow, piano tune that doesn’t do much in peaking my interest for the album. But then again with the release months away, we wouldn’t want to much to soon.
The band also released their tour dates for this summer:
03-28 Portland, OR – McMenamins Kennedy School
05-15 Minehead, England – ATP Festival
05-17 London, England – Borderline
05-18 Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli
05-19 Antwerp, Belgium – Trix
05-20 Groningen, Netherlands – Vera
06-02 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Concert House
06-03 Missoula, MT – The Palace
06-04 Bozeman, MT – The Filling Station
06-06 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium
06-07 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
06-09 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
06-10 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music Festival
06-13 Charlotte, NC – Casbah at Tremont Music Hall
06-14 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
06-15 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero Theatre
06-16 New York, NY – Webster Hall
06-18 Lancaster, PA – TBA
06-19 Pittsburgh, PA – Diesel Club
06-20 Cincinnati, OH – TBA
06-21 St. Louis, MO – Off Broadway
06-22 Kansas City, MO – Record Bar
06-24 Aspen, CO – TBA
06-27 Albuquerque, NM – TBA
06-28 Phoenix, AZ – TBA
06-29 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
07-01-02 Quincy, CA – High Sierra Music Festival
08-01 Montreal, Quebec – Osheaga Festival
With today being the last day of winter, and tomorrow marking the first day of spring, we wanted to pull together a playlist to mark the occasion. Open some windows, turn up the volume, and say goodbye to Old Man Winter. Hopefully the weather will follow our lead. Some songs are old, and some are new, but they are all great tunes for that perfect Spring day.
A little while back we posted a teaser video of the Bright Eyes rerelease “One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels” EP (featuring a collaboration with Neva Dinova), which did a good job of peeking our interest. Recently, Pitchfork posted a full version of one of the songs featuring Conor Oberst. ”Happy Accident” seems to be promising with it’s super cute sound and catchy chorus (not sure I’m getting the noisy breakdown at the end, but it’s so short lived that I can over look it).
Last week Bright Eyes announced the reissue of their 2004 EP “One Jug of Wine Two Vessels” with the addition of four completely new songs. Why they wouldn’t just release a brand new EP with a different name escapes me, but I digress. The new songs still feature the Bright Eyes and Neva Dinova collaboration and will be available on March 23rd. The band has posted a video that not only gives a little taste of the new tunes but also features some pretty cool time lapsed sketching of the original cover art.
The new songs include “Someone’s Love,” “Happy Accidents,” “Rollerskating” and “I Know You.”
With Valentine’s Day weekend upon us the gang at Merchants or Rock were feeling a little torn about just posting the usual lovey dovey schmoopie moopie playlist for all the lovers out there. That’s why we decided to post two; one for the lovers and one for the people out there wanting to give a big middle finger to Cupid and his stupid little heart shaped arrows (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So on this Valentine’s Day we’ve drawn a line in the sand and asked you to pick a side.