While standing in the audience, I get into that horrible state of mind where as soon as something good happens, I start waiting for it to get bad again, and thus invalidate my peachy reaction. This is the result of too many disappointments. I can’t avoid it. If I hear a couple impressive songs, I start getting excited, and then, BANG. I lose. Everything turns lame. I have to keep my guard up and not get too invested. I can’t trust the music to be splendiferous because it usually isn’t. So, keep in mind that I have this annoying complex which always causes me to be unimpressed.
Two weeks ago, Conor Oberst played a few nights in a row at Terminal 5. If you’re wondering who Conor Oberst is (and you shouldn’t be, considering as everyone should know about him; but, just in case), here is a short illumination. Conor Oberst is the band leader and singer/songwriter of the band Bright Eyes. The group has pretty much always been Conor Oberst with a back-up band, since around 1996, when they first started. Since that time, they’ve released a number of very significant records, the most popular being I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and most recently, Cassadaga.
As a consequence of the lackluster Cassadaga, and the various other decisive personal factors, Conor Oberst fled to Mexico and recorded an album with a group of friends called the Mystic Valley Band. The album was released under the name Conor Oberst and was self-titled. This was the first official release under his own name, and it marked a transition from the usually morose and introspective tone of Bright Eyes to something more upbeat, fully grown and almost optimistic (which is indeed quite a change).
I went on the last night. Since it was a Sunday and would require getting home very late (leading to a horribly groggy day at work or school respectively), only the people who really loved Conor Oberst showed up. Also, since it was the last night, Conor Oberst (and pretty much everyone else) got extra drunk. Thus, the show began on an exciting note.
Of course, I’d had my share of excitement inducers, but even so, after the first few songs being phenomenal, I started noticing my complex. Is it going to turn bad? Oh god, is it? Well, every time that judgment surfaced, the band played another amazing song. Everything fantastic from the record got played. I kept expecting something to go wrong. No. Nothing went wrong. It just kept getting better. At this point, my excitement and happiness were nearing a very unusual spectrum. And just about then, they stopped. It being about eleven-thirty, no one was willing to leave. There was one of those typical encore scenarios, and eventually the whole crowd was stomping and shouting, “Conor, Conor, Conor.”
After about ten minutes, they came back on and played for another half hour. Amazing! Wow! Frenetic! Divine! Obviously I am having difficulty in explaining how sensational it was, but at some point, my jaw dropped in awe and stayed that way for the rest of the night. I also didn’t get to sleep until two in the morning. Thank goodness for coffee. Anyway, it turned out to be one of the greatest of concerts. I wish I could recommend a show to go to, but the tour is currently finishing up in Texas. However, do yourself a favor and get the album. Conor Oberst is the best.
First published in The New York Optimist