Notes Tagged ‘Conor Oberst’

Lollapalooza 2011: Day 1 Heats Up with Coldplay, Cults, the Mountain Goats and Le Butcherettes

August 6th, 2011

Photo: Gavin Paul

Conor Oberst performs at Lollapalooza 2011 at Grant Park in Chicago; All photos by Gavin Paul

With sold-out, record-breaking ticket sales – 90,000/day – and a big proverbial 20th-anniversary gold ring for Perry Farrell, the pops of touring festivals took its first breath of three on Friday in its adopted Chicago Grant Park home, humming a far different tune than its Alternative Nation meets circus shit show of yore.

Once a breeding ground of Jane’s Addiction’s circle of grunge, I’m not sure anyone would have predicted Coldplay, one of rock’s most chastised mopesters, would be headlining some day.

But they did. And whether it was a cheeky cop-out or not by leadsinger Chris Martin to tell crowds they’ve been waiting 20 years to do so, they fit the bill suitably, ripping through a best-of list of their most self-deprecating hits, from “Yellow” to “The Scientist.”

The festival’s latest promotor regime, C3, have made a game of seeing how divergent and diverse they can split people across a mile-long stretch of eight stages. And when the closing-hour begins, artists that can fill said space with the most swagger. So while Muse configured its math-rock on the South end of the park, and Girl Talk spewed forth its plugged-in generation of all things hook and hips on the West end, Coldplay’s downtrodden sing-alongs were welcomed in spades, couples ironically making out all across the field as Martin hobbled around from piano ballad to shimmering U2-isms.

There was a bit of nostalgia, perhaps why they were in the spot they were, as some tunes reached back a good ten years across “Parachutes” territory, but the Brits were juiced in their angst, Martin yelping into “Politik” medley, thrusting his pelvis to the drum push on “Fix You,” and closing with a strum-fierce new cut, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,” blasting ash and fireworks in tandem, proving they can get up while down.

Elsewhere in the divergent mad dash, all sorts of great emergent small-stagers were killing it. Greatest of all them during the day’s most humid peak, Mexican thrash-punksters Le Butcherettes, ending with drummer Gabe Serbian puking all over his kit and starting with riot grrrl frontwoman Teri Gender Bender squawking the feminist-slathered half Spanish/half English rager “Dress Off” in mock-bloody threads, an ongoing comment her feelings for post-war housewives.

Georgia’s amalgamation of quirky pop, Reptar, were all sorts of African rhythm-sourced soul and Animal Collective warble, as well, throwing their State fruit at people and inciting many a hand-clap fits from their debut LP, “Oblangle FIzz Y’all,” complete with a keyboardist in a blue leotard.

In one of their more hip-centric strides, a cut dubbed “Blast Off” saw some tambourines thrown across stage, Passion Pit synth kicks and billowing wafts of herb from kids amidst the side-stage’s (Google+) trees, threaded about a choir of “Ohs” on the backbeat, like some awesome misfit child of the Talking Heads and Animal Collective.

Denver’s sweetheart throwback wall-of-sound popsters Tennis had the same charm on the same stage earlier, in a polk-a-dot and apple pie kind of way, swaying through tunes inspired from a grand sailboat adventure the keys-and-guitar couple laid down on “Cape Dory” back in January.

Dudes and dudettes were rolling in the grass and kicking up dirt at one-another as Alaina Moore questioned her husband in Ronettes, curly-haired glow, “Do nautical things make you miss the sea?” His response – a heel-kicked jangle on his guitar and smile.

Within the semi-larger marquee realm, the Mountain Goats held their heady folk own to the North, entering the stage with a scathing metal tune, John Darnielle preceding each tune with a one-liner monologue like “this song is about being young and stupid and somehow surviving.”

And lest us not forget indie-poster child – well now man – Conor Oberst and the Bright Eyes crew, still professing future cynicism off this Spring’s “The People’s Key.” Though Oberst was a bit angrier than normal, and dug into oldies like “Lover I Don’t Have To Love,” and “Road to Joy” encouraging in his frothing verité, “Fuck it up kids, make some noise.” At least in song. At set’s end, he was decrying how much he loved everybody, with hugs for all in the front row.

The small stage won the most hearts, though, reverting back to another sweetheart 60s throwback earlier act, Cults. With only a 30th of the masses in tow for Coldplay, these Brooklyn upstarts slung layer upon layer of shimmering summerisms, Madeline Follin’s doowop harmonies perfectly swimming in the haze of Brian Oblivion’s guitar riffs, with a xylophone chime moving everything forward on that part on breakout single “Go Outside” when Follin reminds everyone how much she wants to get out and play, with just as much swagger as Martin with an arsenal of fireworks.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Noted down in Archive    |    Permanent link

Conor Oberst

July 21st, 2008

What? Tapping into the same spiritual curiosity he sought in a town full of psychics on Bright Eyes’ Cassadaga, Conor Oberst seeks solstice in the footsteps of Mexican lore, ditching longtime producer Mike Mogis’ genius for an unadorned, hee-haw Americana jam session; a far enough departure from Bright Eyes’ decade-plus formula for the Omaha native to dub his new project a “solo” affair. Set amidst a “mystic valley,” Conor and his new crew — aptly dubbed the Mystic Valley Band — sling crunchy electric guitars and country yelps, from the Tom Petty power strums of “Moab” to slower moonlight fingerpicks of “Lenders In The Temple.” And though certainly a genre-based hootenanny, the new set is full of the troubadour’s trademark cathartic wit.

Who? Conor Oberst, a founding member of Saddle Creek Records best known for vocal temper tantrums and orchestral lulls, quickly became a guiding voice for troubled 20-somethings while still a teenager, as critics aligned his name with Bob Dylan’s thanks to his lyrically heady albums under the Bright Eyes moniker. And with his eponymous debut, Oberst opts to momentarily ditch his label, longtime stage name, and friend/producer/guitarist Mike Mogis to form the Mystic Valley Band — essentially a crew of sometime collaborators Nick Freitas (guitar), Jason Boesel (drums), Macey Taylor (bass), Taylor Hollingsworth (guitar), and Nate Wolcott (trumpet).

Fun Fact? Recording locale Tepoztlán, Morelos, México, is known by locals as a “Pueblo Mágico” for its history of Aztec magic and UFO sightings. And the temporary studio Conor and crew constructed in its valley, rightly dubbed “Valle Mistico,” a.k.a. “Mystic Valley,” stuck with the songwriter’s team of musicians, hence their adopted collective christening.

Now Hear This: Conor Oberst, “Danny Callahan” (DOWNLOAD MP3)

Noted down in Archive    |    Permanent link