Monday, August 4, 2008

Conor Oberst Played Bottom Of The Hill

There can be little doubt that Conor Oberst has a thing for Bob Dylan. Whether it be his emphasis on lyrically driven song writing, a backing band that apes aggressively on The Band, or a cover of "Corina, Corina", there's always a strong Dylan vibe in the air. The real question is: is this a bad thing? If the show last Friday at The Bottom Of The Hill is any indication, the answer is a ubiquitous "No", not in the least.

Oberst and his "Mystic Valley Band" played a show that was primarily a showcase of their forthcoming "Conor Oberst" record. The show was far less "emo" than one might expect from Oberst's street cred, both in musicianshp and lyrical content. It seems that Oberst is continuing the trend of lightening things up that began with the last few Bright Eyes albums. For the band's part, they delivered a fair dose of good old fashioned rock and roll, completely with searing guitar solos, and massive organ sounds.

So, is Oberst aping a bit of Dylan? Sure, but he's doing it well. Moreover, it seems more than probable that he's wrestling with some of the same demons that vexed Dylan as his career expanded in the 60's: escaping his serious, folky, former self; testing new musical waters while still keeping the bar for quality high; putting on a show that rewards the artist as well as the fans. It's nice to see that Oberst is willing to head to new places, and we're anxious to hear this band again in October after they've had a few months on the road.

More pics over at the H.A.D. Flickr feed.