The Set List

The Set List
By Brian Washburn
In about a month, George’s Majestic Lounge will see one of, if not the, biggest concerts in its history when Bright Eyes frontman and lyrical genius Conor Oberst will grace the back stage. However, Oberst is not performing under his previously specified name. Instead the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter will be performing under his own name, in which he released his brand new, self-titled album under, as well.
But while Oberst changed the name of the artist, he did not change the sound. The first song, “Cape Canaveral,” on the new album sounds as if it could be found on any other Bright Eyes album (a slow-paced, acoustic track). Even though several of the tracks on the album could pass as Bright Eyes, a few changes have been made and a few songs do grant Oberst fans a bit of fresh air.
The second track off the album, “Sausalito,” is a fast track Oberst gem with a bit more country swing than his usual songs. The standout track, from the difference angle, is “I Don’t Want to Die in a Hospital.” The rhythm and tempo is so up beat it gives no indication (besides the vocals) this is Conor Oberst of the Bright Eyes fame. “Souled Out!!!”: (yes, the song title does contain the overtly obnoxious and cliche exclamation points) is another stand out, upbeat track which even features a raw musical and vocal side of Oberst.
“NYC-Gone, Gone” gives listeners a 50-second good ole country jig to dance along to, with a beat straight from the depths of the Deep South. However different this track might be, it could have easily been left off the album.
Even though fresh air is a nice change of pace, the album’s best track comes in the form of “Danny Callahan,” an upbeat, Casadega-esque track, which proves Oberst to be one of the best songwriters of his generation (“well even western medicine/it couldn’t save Danny Callahan…but the love he feels inside can’t pass), and “Moab,” which is more of a pop-rock song meant for driving across the country to heal pains (“there is nothing that the road cannot heal”).
Lyrically, the album makes no distinction than any previous Bright Eyes effort. Metaphors encompassing loneliness, deception, political undertones and death give listeners the right amount of intuition and insight to rely upon.
While unknowing, naive Oberst fans might ask ‘why not just release this as another Bright Eyes album?’, the elitist fans would respond back that this is truly not Brights; and unfortunately their snooty answer would be right.
Bright Eyes has grown from Oberst playing an acoustic guitar and experimenting with electronics in his home to an enormous project, which now includes full-time member Mike Mogis. But the album works, and is destined to go onto Conor Oberst’s artistic mantle as another piece of his genuine, almost-genius puzzle, except for Cassadage, which quite possibly might be on a lower mantle in his Nebraska home.
Whether or not Oberst plays all songs from this new album (which is seriously doubtful), the Sept. 23 show at George’s looks to be on pace to give the UA a run for their money for Fayetteville’s biggest concert of the fall.
Final Thought: While George’s provides Dickson Street with the majority of the first-class concert, a new venue taking the place of another late, great Dickson venue (The Gypsy) is sparking. However, the winner in the ‘Battle of the Dickson venues’ will not be a venue; but the music fans of Fayetteville. Let’s hope this continues until we are on the map.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA