The People's Key
Author: jeremy M. Farmer
8/5/11 | Time Out Chicago | www.timeoutchicago.com | Live Show Preview
Onstage, even throughout pounding drums from two drummers and the occasional synthesizer, Conor Oberst is still governed by the strong sensativities that make his songwriting so resounding. During the acoustic "Landlocked Blues," he paints a tender picture: "And Laura's asleep in my bed/ As I'm leaving she wakes up and says/ "I dreamed you were carried away on the crest of a wave /Baby don't go away, come here," but then a few verses later is gripped with the same tense anger that turns his croons into growls in "The Calender Hung Itself," or the bitter "Lover I Don't Have to Love." By the end, it's clear the song is about war, useless violence and greed. It's enough to still make Oberst angry, even though he wrote it in 2005, and it's refreshing. It's nice that he still cares enough to grit his teeth and be pissed off. During "Landlocked Blues," a few faces captured on the big screen look near tears.As perhaps an ironic, or maybe even caring, gesture, numerous yellow smiley-face balloons were tossed into the crowd. Though Oberst writes an excellent song for those sad and mournful times, he was in a downright lovely mood when he wasn't shaking his sweat towards his drummers and honey-haired keyboardist. He thanked us for our kindness, and wished us a happy festival. He ended the set by leaping off the stage, shirt drenched with perspiration, and walked right up to the crowd. Arms surrounded him and in the same instant he returned the multiple hugs that enveloped him.