Reviews

The People's Key

Author: Joe Lawler
8/2/11 | Des Moines Register | www.desmoinesregister.com | Live Show Preview
It's hard to imagine an artist and music scene as closely tied together as Conor Oberst and Omaha. Sure, there was The Beatles and Liverpool, but other than Gerry & The Pacemakers, not much success followed there. There was Nirvana and Seattle, but they were hardly the first grunge band, and others shared in the glory. But Oberst and Omaha? The Bright Eyes singer-songwriter helped found Saddle Creek Records (at 14 years old) and Team Love Records, home to acts like The Faint, Cursive, and Tilly and the Wall. Saddle Creek opened one of the Midwest's premiere music venues, The Slowdown, in 2007. When you talk about bands with the Omaha sound, it's likely Oberst was in the band, or somehow associated with it. "Bands would always skip over Omaha when I was a kid," Oberst, who brings Bright Eyes to the Val Air Ballroom on Monday, said during a phone interview. "I definitely think our isolation and self-containment is a big part of why things happened the way they did. There was no chance of anyone helping us, so we realized we had to do it ourselves." That "we" includes Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, the two other steady members in a band that has included dozens of collaborators over the years. Mogis got involved early on, helping Oberst record the first Bright Eyes album. Walcott started working with the band in 2002, and is considered Bright Eyes' musical director. Oberst said that he doesn't write songs any differently for Bright Eyes vs. Monsters of Folk or his Mystic Valley Band. What makes them Bright Eyes songs is Mogis and Walcott's involvement. "We collectively decide how we're going to decorate the songs and what sort of sound, instrumentation and aesthetic we're going for," Oberst said. Before Bright Eyes' most recent album, "The People's Key," was released in February, speculation was it might be the last made using the Bright Eyes name. Oberst was quick to shoot down that idea, but did say an end is coming. "I never actually said this would be our last, but people seem to have inferred that from a quote saying, in effect, that I think we should stop at some point," Oberst said. "I still kind of agree with that. I don't think we're going to end up The Rolling Stones, playing shows at 60. But we're all still fairly young and enjoy each others' company. I don't know when we're going to make another record, but I'm definitely not going to say it will never happen again." Being such close neighbors, it's no surprise that lots of Saddle Creek/Team Love bands perform in Des Moines. What is surprising is that Bright Eyes has never put on a show in central Iowa. Oberst thought he might have played a house show in Des Moines at some point, but Monday's show will be his first public show in our city. "I always love to see Des Moines when we're headed west," Oberst said. "It means we're almost home. It's that last little stretch." With: The Envy Corps and Conduits When: 7 p.m. Monday Where: Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines Cost: $27.50 Info: Ticketmaster
The People's Key

The People's Key

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