Conor Oberst Calms the Rains at Minnesota Zoo


PHOTO: Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) – Live at Bearsville Theater (7-20-2019 Woodstock, NY)


Over the past weekend this state has seen just about every different type of weather. It was hot, sunny, cloudy, windy and stormy. When I arrived at the MN Zoo, I was excited, ready to walk through one of my favorite places and see a show at an amphitheater I truly love. However, since we had a good amount of different weather of course on the way there it looks like it was about to dump rain. I stopped in at a store grabbed a poncho and raced to Apple Valley to see the one and only Conor Oberst.

Upon arriving at the zoo I realized my brother had left his rain coat in the vehicle, lets just say I was ecstatic. As I walked through the lot with the rain coat on and the emergency poncho in my pocket I felt ready for the weather. I could hear music out in the distance it was the music of Joanna Sternberg, the opening act. I could hear the crowd roaring in the distance, a fitting entrance into a zoo. 

When I finally made it to the stage I was amazed at the simple but infectious songs of Sternberg. They truly were a work of art and you could tell they owned the songs and the stage. Sternberg doesn’t like to shove songs into genres or necessarily describe them as one thing, which is probably a good thing since their songs had so much personality.  Sternberg played in the drizzling rain for about 45 minutes before their set ended with a thunderous applause. They stood up from the piano, gave the crowd one more good bye and most likely got to somewhere dry.

As the darker skies came closer so did the start time for Conor Oberst. When he took the stage the crowd cheered with people yelling “We love you Conor” from multiple directions, so it made you think you were at a Beatles show. When that first note hit the sky dropped it’s rain and it came down hard. Oberst thanked the crowd for braving the storm (literally) and kept playing through the down pour. The band opened up with the Bright Eyes’ song “I Won’t Ever Be Happy Again”. Then kept that train rolling with another Bright Eyes’ song “The Trees Get Wheeled Away”. About the third or fourth song in the skies gave way and let us have the night. The sun now gone but clear skies reached from horizon line to horizon line.

One of the highlights from the show was the song “Blue Angles Air Show”. The song as he explained is about not caring about much being younger and just watching an air show with his Dad. Then Oberst said ” I miss that, but man Trump f****** ruins EVERYTHING” Then when on a rant about how Trump has ruined everything from wine to children and of course air shows. The wit and humor in this speech was fantastic it had the crowd laughing and cheering in agreement with him. It was the perfect segway into the song. Another highlight was the first song of the encore when they covered “If You See Me Getting Smaller” by Waylon Jennings. A man in front of me got so excited he started hitting and grabbing his friend’s shoulder in excitement, a true outlaw country fan right there. Oberst ended the night with a bang, by playing his song “Napalm”. The upbeat vibe of the song got people up and was a perfect way to end the show. 

During the whole set Oberst talked about how this band was his family and the whole tour’s theme was doing everything family style. By the end of the night they definitely reached out that olive branch to us and made that whole crowd feel connected as one.