Reviews

Oh Holy Fools

03/09/2001 | Contra Costa Times | Feature
It was painful to watch: Especially painful when contrasted with the reception accorded co-headliner Bright Eyes, which played before Eitzel. Bright Eyes is Nebraska singer/songwriter Conor Oberst, the tottured young man of the moment.

As Eitzel tried to interest the crowd in his more mature and nuanced depressed visions, dozens of fervant fans crowded the Bright Eyes merchandise booth, the left with their purchases without even giving Eitzel a chance.

The Music Hall was packed out to see Bright Eyes do its thing. Baby hipsters were especially well-represented. You could practically hear a resinating echo inside them when Oberst screamed out naked yearning bits of navel-gazing such as “All I want is to be loved and believe in myself!"

While you had to admire him for the convicition of his insecurities, and his fugue-state rants were sometimes powerful, it all came off as a bit ... young. There's nothing subtle about his music. Like a bitter young Dylan, he bit off and spit out his words. Unlike Dylan, he did it with a quavary, weepy near-shriek that bludgeoned you over the head with his misery.

Certainly cathartic, and it's easy to see that kids raised an irony-rich environment might find something that earnest and direct a refreshing change. It helps that he's got the gaunty handsome, high-cheekboned look of Henry Fonda circa “Grapes of Wrath." His dark hair flopped over his eyes as he sang, stuck there by the righteous sweat of his brow.

After the set, I chatted with some of fellow gazers in the crowd, lock rock musicians I much admire and who have been through it all. We decided it's not that we don't get it. It's just that we already got it too long ago.

Azure Ray, from Athens, GA, rounded out this razor blades and prozac lineup. They performed as both Oberst's backup band and as a support act. Alone, thier quite, moody sound suggested the Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star nodding off in an opium den.
Oh Holy Fools

Oh Holy Fools

LP / CD / MP3