My life is about to change drastically yet again. As you may know, a few months ago I went down to super part-time at my old day job of slinging nuts and bolts. Well, Thursday is my final day with any hint of a standard day job. It just wasn’t working and it was time for me to stop beating around the bush. I’m jumping completely into the world of self-employment as of Friday and, well, I’m terrified in the best possible way. It’s as if the concert Gods knew I needed a show that would help clear my head, give me a boost of “you got this” power and a show that would just level me out a little bit.
Kicking the Wednesday night show off was Christian Lee Hutson. Although I had never heard of Christian or his music prior to walking into the beautiful Palace Theatre, I was optimistic about what I was about to get. Not only was he opening for a favorite of mine, but his name has also been attached to Phoebe Bridgers on multiple occasions. Although I knew that meant that the music probably wouldn’t be quite my cup of tea, I knew that meant I was going to get some high-quality music and that’s exactly what I got.<
There was a sense of excitement that radiated from Christian and the other two members of his band. The first time of the tour, you could feel the true admiration and honor that this band had for being on this tour. They wasted no time and jumped into a fairly laid-back set with a few shows that really showcased Christian’s singer-songwriter sensibilities and others that proved just how great he fits into a more rocking band setting. Christian admitted that this was one of his first shows performing with a full band but it looked good on him. That being said, getting those glimpses of magic that comes with a more solo setting had me wanting to experience a more bare-bones performance sometime. Even though the music was fairly serious and full of emotion, the quickly growing audience got glimpses into Christian’s addictive personality. From jokes about how his new album is coming out on April Fool’s Day but it’s no joke– the songs are actually very, very serious (he couldn’t help but chuckle as he said this), to joking about visiting a local music store during the day called Guitar Center because he really tries to support local, I loved how he was able to show a side of himself outside of his music. It made his set feel intimate and personal in all of the right ways.
Headlining the Wednesday night show was Bright Eyes. I know they aren’t from my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa or anything but they are from Omaha, Nebraska which wasn’t far and, being that Des Moines had a very small local scene, I remember seeing Bright Eyes’ albums in the “local section” of the record store I worked at growing up. I bought one of their CDs one day and it sparked an obsession inside me. There was something about the emotionally drenched vocals that just spoke to my heart and soul and although the years have passed and my music tastes have definitely taken a turn for a heavier side of things, I still get hit by a wave of emotion every time I hear a Bright Eyes track.
The first few songs of Bright Eyes’ set were a bit of a blur for me. Blame it on a mixture of the wave of emotions hitting me, the fact that I was living my dream life of photographing them from the photo pit, or just the pure bliss that comes with seeing the genius that is vocalist Conor Oberst live– I was in a haze of, well, every emotion one could possibly feel. Kicking the set off with “Dance and Sing” and then powering through twenty-one other songs until finally ending with “One For You, One For Me”, every song seemed to hit me with a memory and I was not alone in feeling that. Throughout the night I spent some time just watching the people around me and I loved seeing how they were feeling the music. Some people were dancing and smiling, others were trying their best to not just completely break down in tears. Although I won’t ruin it by telling you which category I fell into, I will say that I felt all of the things as I watched Conor and his amazing band play song after song, each one speaking to my heart and soul.
For me, Conor Oberst is what makes Bright Eyes. His vocals and his words have always just struck a chord with me but that doesn’t mean that I am oblivious to the fact that it would not be Bright Eyes without the rest of his band and that thought was put into the spotlight on Wednesday night. From the standard members of the band including a drummer, a few keys players who doubled as horn players, to the guitarist, all the way to the absolutely stunning orchestra that joined on stage (no, I’m not kidding– he had a whole freaking orchestral section on stage), although my ears were glued to Conor’s vocals, my eyes were constantly darting all around the stage attempting to not miss a single movement from anyone.
Larger-than-life sound, the feeling of being in the presence of a lyrical genius all mixed up with the emotions that were hitting me like a one-two punch throughout the night– Wednesday night was the perfect show to soundtrack the next big phase in my life.