Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Maya Kroth
02/14/2005 | San Diego Union Tribune | Live Show Preview
The scene: a stormy Friday night downtown. The crowd huddled under the marquee at Spreckels theater was easily one of the most stylish in San Diego, as cute indie rock girls in vintage dresses bummed smokes off of skinny indie rock boys in ironic T-shirts and Converse sneakers. Openers Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter and Neva Dinova had already warmed the crowd to the introspective, heart-on-sleeve ethic that Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst would bleed all over the stage come 9:45.

While setting up our camera, Liner Notes made the briefest eye contact with Conor, which made us melt in our pointy-toed heels, just like that scene in "Amelie." In a grey-green sweater and dark jeans that barely stayed up, Oberst's piercing eyes and flawless bone structure earned him a spot on Liner Notes' list of fantasy boyfriends.

Conor's seven-piece band included a chick bass player (Stephanie Drootin of the Good Life and Azure Ray), Alex McManus on guitar/mandolin, producer du jour Mike Mogis on pedal steel and guitar, Rilo Kiley's Jason Boesel on drums, Nate Walcott on keyboards/trumpet and Nick White -- who was so cute "he really deserves an 'awwww'" said Oberst -- on keyboards.

Between shouts of "Can I do you?" and "Conor, I want your baby!," Oberst played acoustic and electric guitars and an organ during the set, capping off the night with a riveting rendition of "Landlocked Blues," which -- on the "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" record -- is a duet with Emmylou Harris. Though Harris wasn't present, Oberst kept the crowd rapt with this breakup/protest song with a taps-like trumpet break and lyrics like, If you're still free start runnin' away / 'cause we're comin' for ya.

Oberst opened a several-song encore with the announcement of his Freedom Doctrine ("attack everyone until we own the world") followed by another political song, this one called "When the President Talks to God," after which he grumbled, "Now I have to sing it for four more f***ing years."
When Liner Notes finally recovered from swooning, we picked ourselves up and left the building along with almost 1,500 other satisfied indie kids with stars in their eyes...