Bright Eyes @ the Riverside Theater| Concert Review| Milwaukee, WI 04/03/2011

April 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’m not going to go on too long about this show but to say that I was a bit peeved by the final notes is a bit of an understatement. First and foremost, the music was good. Titus Andronicus continues to be impressive and explosive. Even with sound issues (believe it or not, they weren’t loud enough). Honestly, I’m surprised a riot doesn’t break out every time they play. I’ll definitely make an effort to see them whenever they’re around. Without a doubt.

And Bright Eyes. Well-Conor and co.  were better than good too.  Mike Mogis and Nate Wolcott are terrific musicians that add a ton to Oberst’s live show and the amount of applause they both received when announced is a true testament to that.  As for this particular evening, having seen Bright Eyes several times, I would say that musically this show sits somewhere near the middle. Song selection was  a bit People’s Key heavy but they managed to pull it off pretty well. The new songs sounded good and a little less flat than some of them do on record. There was also a nice mix of older tunes-a couple from I’m Wide Awake got a lot of people excited and “Bowl of Oranges” served as a nice singalong for a crowd that acted like they were at their first concert. Ever.

But besides the good that came from the night, the bad will probably be a little more memorable to me. I think what really got me going was the fact that there wasn’t a Titus Andronicus/Bright Eyes section where only Desaparecidos songs were played (totally joking, although that would’ve been rad).

But seriously,  the fist pumping dudes toward the front that jeered at every drug or alcohol reference, shouted I LOVE YOU Conor like they were thirteen year olds at a Dashboard Confessional show, were a little much. I know, I know,  I used to be that dude.  But…on this night there was no escaping them.  As the show went on, no matter where I went that wasn’t the Riverside lobby, they seemed to multiply. And while that was moderately tolerable right up to the encore, what I was really unimpressed with was the fact that the show ran amok and turned into a political soap box.

Rock n roll can be political. Hell, rock n roll is political. It stemmed from, among other things, political and social angst. So. Ok. Write political songs, incorporate political undertones that express your angst into your lyrics-basically be Titus Andronicus-but I could honestly care less about what a celebrity has to say about it. My allegiances may align with yours, but I could honestly give a shit if you want a crowd of people to press your proverbial “like” button while you stumble around the stage shouting. Sure, everyone ate it up. They went wild.

Fact is- instead of all of the useless banter,  I would’ve rather heard two more songs. I mean, that’s what we paid for. But instead  I learned that politicians are fundamentalist Christians that worship an imaginary deity and are only concerned about corporate America. Thanks. My life was enriched by that.

I was honestly entertained by their 2007 Milwaukee performance when an overindulged Oberst fell into his string section, jumped into the audience, and gave his guitar away. That show is memorable for the unbelievable set that Bright Eyes played and the fact that Conor was composed enough to skillfully play a guitar and sing his heart out while barely being able to stand on two feet. But the music was not the memorable part of this particular night.  Since their music was so important to me at a crucial part of my formative years and the fact that I genuinely enjoy the hell out their records, I’m kind of hoping that I forget about it.

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