by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band play the first of a two-night stand at The Slowdown tonight. The shows have been sold out for a long time, and mark the only performances by this version of Oberst Inc. anywhere this year.
Oberst is an enigma to me anymore. There are four versions of Oberst (five if you count his “real” solo stuff) and they’re in a constant state of flux. The most current incarnation has been Desaparecidos, which emerged out of nowhere this year with a couple 45s and some national tour dates. Then it disappeared again, but will re-emerge for another month-long national tour toward the end of October.
Then there’s Mystic Valley Band, who first appeared as the support personnel on Oberst’s successful 2008 debut solo outing, but were not credited specifically as “Mystic Valley Band.” The moniker was added for 2009’s forgettable (except for “Nikorette”) Outer South album. Oberst is said to be working on a new solo album and has a handful of solo dates scheduled on the West Coast in early October. Will his next release be credited simply as “Conor Oberst” or will “Mystic Valley Band” also be attached? We’ll have to see.
Let’s not forget Monsters of Folk, which has released the least interesting of all the Oberst recordings, but has provided some of the most memorable live performances. Or maybe I just really like Jim James. There have been natterings here and there from various members, but nothing concrete regarding any future activity (but with Jim James scheduled at The Slowdown Sept. 10, you never know what could happen).
Finally, there’s Bright Eyes, which has and will always be Oberst’s gold standard, though the future of this incarnation of Oberst is always in question. The last Bright Eyes album, 2011’s The People’s Key, came and went with a flash as bright as the flames on the record’s sleeve. 2007’s Cassadaga, which was a better record, didn’t burn much brighter.
Despite all the activity, you get a sense that Oberst is wandering through the forest without a map. After years of the usual release-an-album-then-tour-
Things were so much easier when money didn’t matter.
As for tonight and tomorrow night’s shows, I don’t have a ticket and I’m not on the list, so it looks like I won’t be going. If you’re one of the lucky ones, have a good time. The show starts at 9 with two openers.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.