Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Stewart Smith
01/28/2005 | Tweed | | Live Show Preview
New York City is bitter cold. And the reception is colder. When Tweed arrived at Town Hall to catch the last of Bright Eyes' three back-to-back sold out shows, we expected to be on the guest list. So did the rest of the press that was stuck in the box office for half an hour while Conor Oberst's team sorted out the mix-up. After missing opener Tilly and the Wall, we were finally ushered in by Bright Eyes' publicity crew with ticket stubs, a photo-pass, and directions to "find open seats." The welcoming was warming up.
    The performance, overall, was on target. Conor and company launched into tracks from the recently released "I'm Wide Awake. It's Morning." Between each jam, the theater hall erupted into catcalls from the gaggles of grating teenyboppers while Tweed, in reaction, called out for the often under-sung Mike Mogis, a fixture of Bright Eyes. In the cold venue's warm spotlight, the little tourist girls saw deliverance from suburban insulation. Their forty-something fathers saw trouble. Conor's constant tongue lashes at Dubya and nods to left-wingers sent fun-to-watch chills through to the wallets of this older generation as well as the DMB band-wagoneers.
    Conversely, the sarcastic "When the President Talks to God" brought smiles to the home crowd faces—the twenty to thirty-something's that marched against the war and pushed New York's vote decisively against the Christian extremists. Ever the politician himself, Conor began his encore by kissing the head of infant Stella Mogis who he and Mike had brought out to say hello. Stella managed a few gurgles and grabbing gestures at the microphone before Mike returned her to the wings, ending the rush of cell phone photographers from aisle seat to stage. The encore assembly of Bright Eyes was ready to make some noise.
    And they did. Bright Eyes closed down Town Hall with Conor's riff on Beethoven, "Road to Joy," the climax of which involved Conor standing on/falling off the drum kit, dropping his guitar, then beating it until the strings snapped. You could almost see him calculating the cost of repair and replacement, stopping him just short of an outright smashing. I don't blame him, the Bush economy is a tough one.
    All in all the show was... "neat." (Hats off to Kevin Kostner for redefining the term.) Everyone played well. The audience got their money's worth. Either Conor's venues will continue to increase in size or the hype will eventually eat him. And although he is a talented young man, I think the touted "boy genius" label should be repealed and replaced with "sexy narcissist."