Conor Oberst came through town last week and provided a fantastic show for true Conor/Bright Eyes fans. The show stemmed from a cancelled show in Cincy in 2018. Oberst has been on tour with his indie folk project Better Oblivion Community Center featuring a fellow multi-project musician, Phoebe Bridgers before branching off to play shows missed from the prior year.
The show opened with Joanna Sternberg - a singer, songwriter, musician and visual artist born/based in New York City. She supplied a lot of nervously confident back and forth banter with the audience before delving into wonderfully crafted folk on her guitar and piano. It was as if Peggy Seeger and Randy Newman had a child and Daniel Johnston was the godfather.
Conor took the stage after intermission with a VERY rarely performed "I Won't Ever Be Happy Again" and "Trees Get Wheeled Away" both of which have laid dormant in Conor's vast performance songbook until this tour.
He was with a full band, including now long-time musical collaborator Miwi La Lupa, and friends, or rather "family" as Conor reiterated throughout the night. There wasn't too much conversation between him and the crowd other that a couple back and forths and people saying, "I love you".
The 14-song set was smattered with tracks from his entire discography, including "Hundreds of Ways," "Time Forgot," and Desert Island Questionnaire" from his very underrated solo effort Upside Down Mountain.
"Empty Hotel By the Sea" seemed to wake Conor up from the lag of everyday touring, as he seemed invigorated by the heavy subject matter. The song is thought to be a song for his recently deceased brother, Matthew. The old familiar early Bright Eyes vocal quiver set in and led to pained, lamenting howls towards the end of the song, which led into a very dark and emotional version of "No One Would Riot for Less" off of Cassadaga.
With the final song of the night, "Napalm," Conor brought opener Joanna Sternberg back out to collab with the band on piano, sending a very pleased crowd of fans out with the country rock sizzled barn burner.