Show Review: Bright Eyes with Farmer Dave Scher at The Fox Theater, 4/12/11

by Marie Carney on April 14, 2011

In sharp contrast to the last show I went to at Oakland’s beloved Fox Theater, the crowd was overwhelmingly mellow, especially considering this could be the last time Bright Eyes plays the Bay Area.  Luckily this ended up being more telling about Bright Eyes’ fans maturity than their level of worship.  Just like every other time I’ve seen Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and their team of talented musicians (this was number nine if anyone’s counting), the audience still fell into a hush while a sense of quiet worship filled the room as the band took the stage.  And they held that stage for over two hours of intensity.

Opener Farmer Dave Scher brought with him a litany of musicians which definitely peaked my interest, but once the music started I kind of wondered why they were all there.  Maybe I should blame the sound mix or my lack of earplugs but it all sounded like a mush of generic country tinged rock. They had two guitars, bass, drums, back-up vocals/tamborine, keyboards, percussion, violin and steel guitar.  With so many instruments on stage I expected a thicker and more dramatic sound but was left wanting more.  The only thing that really jumped out on me was the fierce and intense violin playing, which was brought to us by Anton Patzner, violinist in one of Spinning Platter’s favorite bands Judgement Day, so of course he was amazing, and for me, stole the show.  Too bad he doesn’t always play with them.

Anton is killing it on the violin

Even though the show was sold out it wasn’t until after Farmer Dave Scher left the stage that it started to feel crowded.  I’m pretty sure people were still drifting in up past the moment Conor Oberst walked on stage.  Honestly I was expecting, and kind of dreading, one of the weird mystical voice-overs from Bright Eyes’ newest release The People’s Key but instead was greeted by the band going straight into “Firewall.”  He had the same band with him that you’ve been seeing on various tv performance: two drummers, two keyboards (one adding trumpet), bass and two guitars.  It made for a more aggressive Bright Eyes performance to have the smaller band set up (in comparison to previous tours) and it was nice to hear the music that way.

The set itself was well varied, averaging three songs per album, and I sensed no trouble now with the sound.  The arangements of the songs were quite straight forward most of the time.  The standout moments always seemed to come from Nathan Walcott in the form of a well placed horn solo.  My favorite ended up being the jazzed up horn solo at the end of “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” taking place of the strings.  It was completely different yet retained the mood and feel of the song making it my favorite moment of the show.

Conor Oberst, for his part, continues to be a great performer with unbelievable charisma after all these years.  Whether he is almost convulsing with agression or quietly singing he is difficult to look away from.  At this show I think he really proved how sincere his emotional outbursts and passion are.  We were treated to two political rants at that night, one of which resulted in Conor Oberst’s realization that he had just asked the rich people in the audience to help like no one else’s opinion mattered.  Immediately after that he launched into an angry rendition of “Road to Joy” punctuating it with the smashing of his guitar.  This was the second to last song of the evening and maybe should have been the last.  The band however continued the show with “One for You, One for Me” and Conor paced around the stage while waiting for a new guitar to be tuned and handed to him just in time for his solo.

Maybe it was all a show or maybe Conor Oberst is just overwhelmingly sincere, you could really argue either one, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have left disappointed.

Setlist:

Firewall
Jejune Stars
Take It Easy (Love Nothing)
Four Winds
Cleanse Song
Something Vague
The Trees Get Wheeled Away
Shell Games
Approximate Sunlight
Arc of Time
Triple Spiral
Hot Knives
Attempt To Tip The Scales
Padraic My Prince
Cartoon Blues
Poison Oak
Bowl of Oranges
(Political Speech #1)
Old Soul Song
The Calendar Hung Itself
Ladder Song

Encore:

Gold Mine Gutted
Lover I Don’t Have To Love
(political speech #2)
Road to Joy
One For You, One For Me

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aidan September 25, 2013 at 1:14 am

I was here for this show. I’ve seen him a few times and this was by far my favorite of his performances! He really was something to see that night, wasn’t he? 🙂

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