Folk-rock artist Conor Oberst graced the stage of Boston’s House of Blues on July 21, delivering a set of both old and new material to hundreds of endearing fans; and he certainly delivered. It’s hard to believe that at this point in time there are many who have never at least had a run in with Oberst’s work. Beginning his music career in the early 90s when he was only a preteen, he has since developed an extensive catalog of both studio and live material, and has garnered a huge following of individuals with angsty minds and hopeful hearts. To say his music is emotionally charged would be an understatement, and I would be lying if I said some of that emotion didn’t wear off on me at least once during the performance.
His work created under his well-known project, Bright Eyes, had a huge personal impact as I was growing up. Songs like “Something Vague” which he featured in his set, got me through some of the hardest times I experienced as a young, confused kid. Known for his sardonic lyrics and raspy voice, Oberst delivered his poetry with consistent emotion on songs such as, “Gossamer Thin;” his somber piano providing an additional layer of melancholy that swept over the already enraptured audience. His accompanying musicians performed with equal enthusiasm and never skipped a beat to deliver what was a spot on performance. His talented fiddle player was especially animated, belting out fiery licks during songs like “Four Winds,” and even dropping to his knees to playfully combat an already energetic Oberst.
In between songs, Oberst took the opportunity to make several jabs at a particular loudmouthed and orange skinned politician who is now all too familiar. While I prefer a separation between politics and live performances, it was nonetheless unsurprising (outspoken as Oberst is) and did little to detract from an otherwise wholly enjoyable experience.
THE GIST: It’s been several years since the dreary morning walks to school, softened only by the beautifully sad songs of a Bright Eyes album, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to see the man behind the music. To anyone who is drawn to folk tunes tailored for troubled souls or anyone already a fan of his work, I recommend that you be on the lookout for his next visit. He sings and plays on stage with the same passion that can be heard on his recordings, and I know I can’t wait till the strange beast that is Conor Oberst comes slouching towards Boston again.