The People's Key
Author: Andrew and Gene
8/7/11 | Upchicago.com | www.upchicago.com | Live Show Preview
No summer would be complete without a weekend at Lollapalooza. So, we sent our two music buffs, Gene Wagendorf III and Andrew Hertzberg, with the job of giving us the good, the bad, and the ugly of what goes on at this epic festival. With an idea in mind of what not to miss, these two headed into the trenches of Chicago's most famous music festival. Check out their recap of Lolla Day One?Bright Eyes _ AndrewGrowing steadily into my 20s means that the majority of my Bright Eyes listening days are behind me. Having never seen Conor Oberst perform live though, I figured this was the best chance to do it. And damn was that a hell of a show. Oberst has certainly come a long way from the emo posterchild, becoming an intense and dramatic frontman full of energy, incorporating elements of folk, electronic, and even dance music into his maturing tunes. An extended trumpet solo in "Lover I Don't Have to Love" was a nice surprise. And the combination of the setting sun, the cooling breeze and a passionate rendition of "Landlocked Blues" sent literal (and please excuse the clich_) chills down my spine. "Road to Joy" found Connor backed by two drummers, two more percussionists and some great noise trumpet, the lyrics that recognize his privilege mirrored by the excess of the music. But he doesn't come off selfish. He recognizes how ridiculous it is for him to hold the status he does. That's why he jumped off stage during the close out of "One for You, One for Me," hugging members of the crowd and security as well. Overall, a surprising, inspiring and powerful set.Bright Eyes _ GeneIf The Mountain Goats surprised me, Bright Eyes blew me away. I can't talk about this show without making it perfectly clear that I have never liked this band and only agreed to check them out in order to share some more drinks with Andrew. Conor Oberst, the driving force behind Bright Eyes, was always just too damned whiney for me to care about. Well, apparently now I'm a huge fucking Bright Eyes fan. How do these things happen? The group opened up with the urgent and enchanting "Four Winds" before shifting into full-on folk rock jam mode. The music was appropriately desperate, punctuated by sophisticated arrangements complete with string and trumpet, and held together by Oberst's brutally sincere lyrics. Perhaps my judgment of the band early in its career was a bit unfair; Oberst was only 17 when he formed the band, but either way I'm happy to report that our little Conor is all grow'd up and making mature, dynamic, and above all interesting music. Wherein he used to remind of Peter Brady during that famous puberty-induced voice-change episode, Oberst now just sings with confidence and conviction, exactly what's needed for his poetic lyrics. The entire set had me in stunned disbelief, that is until the "One For Me, One For You." The preachy, hyper-Bono tune was a little to repetitive and eventually crumbled under the weight of Oberst's George Romero like heavy-handedness. That said, the tune did give Lolla Day One one of its cooler moments as the singer jumped into the photo pit and made his way around the crowd, stopping to hug fans and the occasional security guard. I guess if you've going to do cheesy, go all the way. It just might work.