Sunday, October 28, 2007

“Got a cricket for a conscience, always looks the other way…”

I will be the first to admit that I left NYC rather abruptly. I thought since the timing was right (my apt. lease was ending for one) that it would be easy to pack up and go. It wasn’t until I landed in Chicago that it hit me that I had actually moved. I wasn’t here for a weekend trip. It has now been 5 months since the move, and I am now starting to get into more of a groove. I have my friends, I am meeting new people, and I’m still doing improv. And how can I forget the music? Without going to shows, I couldn’t ever feel like I was home.

Right before I left NYC I had a string of shows to go to. However, since the move was quick, I had to miss out on some great acts. One of those was Bright Eyes. So how excited was I to find out he would be making his way to Chicago? I’ll answer that for you: VERY! On Friday, Oct. 19th I went back to the Chicago Theatre to see Bright Eyes with opener Andrew Bird.

I arrived a song or two into Andrew Bird’s set. I have heard of him, but not actually heard him. I know that he had a following of dedicated fans, especially in the Chicago area since this is his hometown and where he resides. I didn’t know the titles of any of the songs he played. I tried to do some research after the fact and I know that he played a song called “Imitosis.” He also played a song where he used a See ‘n Say toy at the start and then went in about how he couldn’t save his chickens. It sounds odd, but it sounded so beautiful. He also was on stage by himself playing all the instruments, looping and using effects to make his music. He was really interesting to watch.


After a little bit of time a DJ from the radio station sponsoring the show came out and introduced this older gentleman who is known as the indie poet of Chicago. He got on stage and did a poem that lasted about 5 seconds. This was the second time I had seen him. The first was at The Twilight Sad show. Oh things to do after you retire!

A few moments later Bright Eyes took the stage. The show started out with Fever & Mirrors’ “An Attempt to Tip the Scales.” From there he played songs from most of his albums (I think he has 50 now…), and surprised us with a few covers. From what I can recall he played: “Classic Cars,” “Four Winds,” and “If The Brakeman Turns My Way” from Cassadaga; “Lua,” “Old Soul Song,” Poison Oak,” and “Another Travelin’ Song” from I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning; “Hit The Switch” from Digital Ash In A Digital Urn; “You Will. You? Will. You? Will,” and “Bowl of Oranges” from Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground. He covered “Walls (Circus)” by Tom Petty and sang a song he wrote for a friend’s band (Neva Dinova) called “Spring Cleaning.”

Conor was very endearing, funny and engaged the audience. He shared stories about his family and was embarrassed when he took off his sweater, because had a hole in his favorite shirt that he has had for 10 years…he didn’t think he would get hot enough to take his sweater off. He also shared a story of an ex-tour manager that made the joke, “How does Bright Eyes warm up for a show?” The answer? “Me me me me…” Conor then said, “I fired him.” I know some people aren’t a big fan of Conor’s or think that he is self-centered or whatever. But he puts on a good show and I think he is a pretty genuine guy. Plus, his lyrics are so beautiful.

Unlike my Ryan Adams experience where everyone around me annoyed the crap out of me, this time no one was really around me. In fact no one was seated next to me. There were people at the end of my row, and then some people in front of me and behind me, but that was about it. And during the show no one was really disrespectful and no one yelled out, “Conor! I want to have your babies!” like when I saw him in DC. Which in a weird way it felt odd. I don’t really like going to shows solo, but this is something I am getting used to. It just makes it a little more difficult to hear the words from “Lua”:

“When everything is lonely

I can be my own best friend
Get a coffee and the paper
Have my own conversations
With the sidewalk and the pigeons
And my window reflection…”

Bright Eyes is not a good show to see solo. It is also not a good show to go make out with your significant other or annoy those around you by yelling out obnoxious things. It is a good show to go with some pals dance around or just sit and listen.


P.S. Even though he didn’t play “Hot Knives” here is the video from it. I already posted “Four Winds” in my March 23rd post.

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