Fox Theater Pomona
October 3, 2012
"This song is a reminder that no matter how much fun you have and how much love you have in your life, we're all going to die alone," Conor Oberst offered as parting words to the Pomona crowd Wednesday night. "When that moment comes, I don't know what you're going to be thinking about, but I hope it's happy."
This musing exemplified both the stereotype associated with the Bright Eyes frontman and contradicted it. The mention of Bright Eyes to a non-fan conjures up thoughts of sad bastard music and a desperate, quivering voice. Of course, if any one of this opinion attended his performance at the Fox Theater they'd see Oberst's final words before he launched into the final song of the night-"Milk Thistle"-were a microcosm of his set.
Part of the set offered the downer tunes he's come to be known for and part of it showcased his growth and diversity as a songwriter and performer. There was country. There was "emo". There was rock and fucking roll (thanks to his Shreddy Eddie guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth). He played songs of Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk, the Mystic Valley Band and his solo work.
The crowd could be heard singing along faithfully to tunes like "Lua" and "Make War," (speculatively) because his songs serve as Bible verses and pithy words to live by like "carpe diem" et al. to a generation of young adults searching for their way in the world. Sometimes they need to be said aloud.
Opener Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley was a perfect fit for this bill as her band's lyrics offer the same solace ("But you'll fight and you'll make it through, You'll fake it if you have to, And you'll show up for work with a smile") for the same generation.
She played a set mostly made up of her solo work. Indie rock's favorite sisters the Watson Twins accompanied Lewis for most of her songs. Lewis' vocals were spot on and record-perfect. She was charming as ever (and her short stature made her all the more adorable) and joined Oberst on stage during a few songs.
The irony of reviewing Oberst never left me as his lyric from "Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and to Be Loved)" repeated in my head: "I do not read the reviews, no I am not singing for you."
Critic's Bias: Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley were the soundtrack to my formative years.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He writes like an asshole!"
The Crowd: Young and beautiful.
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Random Notebook Dump:
Jenny Lewis' Setlist
Run Devil Run
Rise Up With Fists
You Are What You Love
The Charging Sky
Bad Man's World
The Next Messiah
Conor Oberst's Setlist
Get Well Cards
Soul Singer in a Session Band
We are Nowhere and it's Now
I Won't Ever Be Happy Again
Ahead of the Curve
Make a Plan to Love Me
Eagle on a Pole
I Don't Want to Die in a Hospital