Conor Oberst launched his one week, 7-city, California tour from San Diego on Monday. The show was his first since New Years Eve last year he said and there were times that it seemed so with song openings needing a moment to catch their rhythm but we benefited from that time off as well. Like a ball of atoms waiting to explode you could sense the tension in their performance. They took the generally feel good folk-pop characteristic of the music and stretched out lyrics and sung things a bit off on purpose or sped up the tempo of songs to harder rock. His behavior on stage was frenetic at times releasing guitar strums in spastic movements pairing well with the intense playing of his guitarists Nik Freitas and Taylor Hollingsworth. Another standout in the performance was the keyboardist who seemed especially on and was featured heavily.
As for the music played, the two albums attributed to Conor and the MVB are a mixed bag and so a longer live performance (an hour and half to two) allowed the weaker ones their time on stage. But broadly, even the weak ones were played with relish and the longer break seems to have invigorated the band.
A nice surprise in Phoebe Bridgers opened. With a quiet whispery style that blooms into a powerful full-throated roar, her music is full of contrasts. Additionally, the subject matter veers to the unseemly and offers an edge to otherwise classically beautiful compositions. She’s a career to watch not just for the fact that Kendall Jenner tweeted herself listening to one of her songs.
While the rocket that was Conor Oberst’s early career has tapered off, it has settled into a celestial orbit that for many provides some answers and his performance showed he’s aware of the power he’s got.
Here are a couple of this highlights from the show along with Phoebe Bridgers’s recent release: