Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band; Terminal 5

Bad photo just to prove how hard it was to get a shot.

Terminal 5, whoops, I mean Terminal Hell. I will never go back. I only went because for the last 8 years, I’ve seen Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) at every venue in the tri-state area. This is a long Obsession that won’t quit. I endured and tried to keep a positive outlook, and I’m glad I did. Having wandered around the event to find somewhere within viewing range for Ben Kweller's upbeat and engaging performance of countrified pop was close to impossible. His fans were vast and even with the two-story balcony, I didn’t find one slight opening to fully appreciate the music. 

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band set started similarly. I stood by the WFUV Tables and had a side view for the first half of the set. Speaking of die-hard fans, standing next to me was a pregnant woman with her mate, lovingly hanging on to every word. I laughed and got such a kick out of watching Conor dance and lead the band in a new and out-there sort of way. Doing moves that seemed so unlike him. He sang and added sign language to outline certain lyrics in a pop-rap fashion. It was a hoot. I find it endearing after seeing so many shows with him literally shaking with fear. I still love those special shows and hold them dearly in memory. A very comfortable and very much in command Conor emerged. Maybe it was the hat. That always helps. It gave confidence to the new and unfamiliar persona of Conor Obeast.  

The band was tight and explosive. Most of their sound is countryesque mixed with a solid rock and roll spirit, guitar leads, and bluesy piano riffs. The sound was loud and emphasized the muscle of the music but too loud to appreciate the nuance. “Moab” shined, showing off the great melding of vocals. They played quite a few new tunes. A very strong new song, "Ten Women," highlighted Conor’s gift for writing. He ended the set with “Milk Thistle” and returned with a strong four-song encore, including one with Ben Kweller. “I Don’t Want To Die In The Hospital” was spectacular. They ended on an experimental new song, "Breezy" that spoke volumes about future endeavors. It had atmosphere and strange distant scratchy sounds of what I thought was metal on guitar. Better Photos from Prefix

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