What more could you ask for than Conor Oberst singing “Lua” backed by Nate Walcott on flugelhorn? It was one of the highlights of last night’s sold out Haiti Relief Concert at Slowdown. For this rendition of Bright Eyes, Oberst had Walcott on keyboards and assorted brass, Mike Mogis on guitar, Matt Maginn on bass and someone on drums who resembled a young Winona Ryder (at least from my vantage point across the room). Whoever that drummer was, she was amazing.
The crew played a couple new songs (that, or I simply didn’t recognize them) that will fit nicely in the Bright Eyes oeuvre. The best of them was the encore that roared to a crashing, epic finish. When will we be hearing this new material? Something tells me it won’t be until sometime during the latter part of the year.
I didn’t arrive at Slowdown until around 11, when Simon Joyner was on stage with his band playing a rather low-key set. In fact, most of the evening had a distinctly low-key feel, which I guess was appropriate for a benefit for such a grim situation. Tilly and the Wall’s set was less rousing than relaxed, especially since Jamie Pressnall no longer tap-tap-taps out the hits, one assumes because she’s still feeling the effects of giving birth to her and husband/guitarist Derek Pressnall’s first child.
That said, one band did manage to pry the roof off the joint. It’s True has never played a better set, taking their sound to uncharted waters. They were the band that had the most buzz among those I chatted with in the crowd. The consensus: They just keep getting better. They knew they were on one of the biggest stages of their careers (thus far), and they took full advantage of it. Wonder who is putting out their upcoming album?
An aside: I haven’t seen Oberst play “Lua” in a long time, and to his credit, he attacked it with the same intensity as he ever has, spitting out the lines almost with poetic disgust. Despite being his “hit,” the woman next to me had never heard the song before, and commented on how freakin’ sad it is.
There was a movie that came out sometime in the early ’80s that starred Paul Simon called One Trick Pony. Simon played Jonah, a guy on the downside of his career, balancing various relationships, trying to make a comeback. Anyway, late in the film, an award show based on The Grammy’s asks Jonah to appear at their ceremony and perform his famous war ballad “Soft Parachutes,” which is just the type of nostalgia trip that Jonah was trying to avoid. In the end, he does the performance, walking onto an empty stage with just a guitar. It’s a pretty song, a strong song, the kind of simple melody that Simon did so well and seemingly effortlessly (before Graceland). I think of that scene every time I see Oberst perform “Lua.” It would be easy to say that “Lua” is Conor’s “Soft Parachutes,” except that after all these years, he looks like he still loves playing it, as if he knows what a jewel he has in that song.
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Weekend’s looking busy.
Tonight at O’Leaver’s, OEA Award winner for best hip-hop, Conchance, opens a show at O’Leaver’s with godshamgod and Pharmacy Spirits. 9:30, $5.
There’s another Haiti Benefit Concert tonight down at The Hole, 715 So. 16th St. The line-up is Eastern Turkish, Cordial Spew, Living Victim, Youth & Tear Gas and Straight Shot. $5, 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr., The Killigans have their CD release show with Parting Shot and Cave Kids. $7, 9 p.m.
Saturday night’s main event is Her Flyaway Manner at The Waiting Room with Perry H. Matthews, This Life Is a Scarecrow and Bazooka Shootout. $7, 9 p.m.
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