Reviews

Lifted or The Story is in the Soil....

Author: Daniel Ash-Mitha
04/26/2003 | Prefixmag.com | www.prefixmag.com | Live Show Preview
Seattle don't dance. Especially the 21 and over set. Sway? Maybe. The girls might shimmy a bit but we guys keep our feet planted. You could steam up our nerd frames and get a few claps - hands above our heads, even, if you're really good - but you can't do much to move us with your tunes. Blame the stringent teen dance laws we show-goers grew up with. Hell, blame the microbrews we swill now that we're of age. And though we'll stand there brooding, arms folded across our chests, we'll never deny a band its stage or a rock star his spotlight. The stage tonight was the Showbox and the rock star, Emo-ha, Nebraska's crown prince, Connor Oberst, backed by his Bright Eyes collective five deep.

He opened the show alone, thumb strumming a new song called "One Foot in Front of the Other" off the Saddle Creek 50 comp. "We made love on the living room floor," he moaned. "With the noise in the background of the televised war. And in that deafening pleasure I thought I heard someone say, 'If we walk away they'll walk away.' " The left-leaning Seattle crowd applauded Oberst's romantic politics and was rapt in attention. He then was joined by his band, which backed him with bass, drums, guitar, keyboards and those instruments I imagine only land-locked indie kids would think to play - laptop steel guitar and mandolin.

They plodded through an hour or so worth of material from Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted, but never quite reached the peaks of the latter's lush orchestrations. They built up steam on "You Will. You? Will.," but it quickly blew off as they wrapped the song short of its transcendental third act. Oberst himself was demure and kept between-song banter to a minimum. A lone cry from the crowd of, "C'mon Connor, ROCK OUT!" crystallized our "here we are now, entertain us" vibe but was met with a staid performance of "Bowl of Oranges," ending again where the words do.

While those hoping for the fire and red wine of Bright Eyes on record left a bit disappointed, there is no denying the band's talent or the potent star quality of its string-puller. As expected, the girls in attendance far outnumbered the guys and seemed to lap up every gooey emotion he dripped. Dare I say Connor Oberst is emo's John Mayer? Tell me you couldn't see him croon a line like, "Your body is a hinterland."


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