Conor Oberst, Dawes
Conor Oberst at the Central Park Summerstage, July 29th, 2014
You never know when it comes to New York in the summer. It can be 100 degrees and 95% humidity. It can be torrential thunderstorms. Or it can be like last night in Central Park--perfect. The weather’s cooperation set the stage for Conor Oberst and Dawes to join forces in an interesting melding of folky rock.
Oberst has had a long career stretching from the late 90’s, through Bright Eyes and various solo endeavors. His lyrics are rich and sophisticated. Emo with a twist. Quiet and angry at once. There are occasional hushed comparisons to Dylan and Neil Young. Dawes has a more retro analogue country tinged sound. Together the risk was losing the clarity of the vocals in a sea of analogue reverb. That risk was avoided. The words were always audible above the musical foundation.
The stage was basic-the stars here are the songs, not theatrical pyrotechnics. The lyrics rang clear and true as they worked through songs from Bright Eyes and the Mystic Valley Band in addition to his newest solo work from the album Upside Down Mountain. Early angrier lyrics benefit from a more measured and mature delivery of today’s Oberst. Dawes proved a perfect backdrop and partner in expanding Oberst’s sound palette. Their sound fleshed out a musical outline that the recent solo work hinted at. A smoother ground for edgier lyrics. Music with some contrast to but just as rich as the words they were accompanying. The evening was an organic whole- clearly the time touring together has given the two similar yet different musical forces a chance to blend perfectly. The give-and-take on stage was evident. True musical camaraderie.
The crowd loved it. The weather smiled upon it. The sum of two parts being greater than the whole. A musical match that has a bright future…stay tuned.
1. Time Forgot
2. Zigzagging Toward the Light
3. Hundreds of Ways
4. We Are Nowhere and It's Now (Bright Eyes song)
5. Bowl of Oranges (Bright Eyes song)
6. Hit the Switch (Bright Eyes song)
7. Artifact #1
8. Danny Callahan
9. No One Would Riot for Less (Bright Eyes song)
10. Governor's Ball
11. Old Soul Song (Bright Eyes song)
12. Firewall (Bright Eyes song)
13. Desert Island Questionnaire
14. Double Life
15. If The Brakeman Turns My Way (Bright Eyes song)
16. Lover I Don't Have to Love (Bright Eyes song)
17. Poison Oak (Bright Eyes song)
18. I Got the Reason #2 (Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band song)
19. Lua (Bright Eyes song)
20. Another Travelin' Song (Bright Eyes song)
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