With some hindsight, I think that it's not necessarily fair to expect one twenty-something singer to change the whole system. He still does his best to not play Clear Channel/Live Nation venues and has found a way to keep his own label, Saddle Creek, afloat even in these tumultuous times for the music industry. I think the fact that Conor has aspirations to do things his own way, and hopefully change things for the better, has somehow put him in a place where backlash comes just as often as critical acclaim.
Without a doubt, he's one hell of a songwriter and I've enjoyed seeing Bright Eyes when given the chance. Bright Eyes' stop in Los Angeles to preview tracks off their new album, Cassadaga, was one I was going to do my best not to miss. Thanks to Chloe and Jill from Press Here for helping us get in to cover the show . Vetiver was opening up that night and I'm always excited to get to see them play. I guess they didn't have their normal sound guy but it was the best I've ever heard them play, or sound, before. Farmer Dave was sitting in on pedal steel and the stage was full of long haired people making beautiful music. I think that slower songs take more time to warm up to then faster paced ones. Some of Vetiver's tracks, like "Been So Long" are instant classics, while others, like "Maureen" might take a few spins before becoming engulfed. Even though I had a perma-grin going for most of their set, I was a little disappointed that people wouldn't shut up while they were playing.
Bright Eyes took the stage with a rather large band and broke into a new track I wasn't familiar with. Wisely they followed it up with "We Are Nowhere And It's Now" which instantly brought everyone into the fold. They sounded great and the setlist mixed things up enough to keep most everyone entertained. A few tracks in they covered John Prine's "Crazy as a Loon" which seemed right in line with most of their tunes that night. "Make War" kept the pace up and got some folks singing along and bopping up and down in the back.
Apparently M. Ward joined Bright Eyes for some earlier shows on the east coast and decided to stick with the band when they headed west. He headed out for at least half the set and strummed along on his guitar with his baseball cap pulled down about as far as it would go. As much as I was rooting for them to throw in a version of "Poison Cup," it would have to remain a dream. They continued to rifle through a steady mix, then got to "Old Soul Song" with the chant "They went WILD" which was as uplifting as it was going to get.
You'd think someone with a level of success that he has would be happy but it's hard to tell. Cassadaga seems a bit like a hodgepodge of songs, with some working and some that get skipped over. There's no doubt he's already cemented himself into the realms of best songwriters in America. Now we just get to wonder where he'll go with it. Hopefully he's already gotten through/over the overwhelming aspects of success and can do things his own way from here on out. He's only 27 and already has over a dozen album's under his belt so I think he's got most of us beat on a productivity level. Keep it up.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / Deluxe LP / CD / Deluxe CD / MP3