Openers So So Glos out of Brooklyn tried, with some measure of success, to rouse the crowd out of its Monday slack. The band is a fairly straightforward pop-punk act, complete with calls to fuck the police, Beastie Boys t-shirts (Brooklyn, represent) and raucous amp-climbing. While the music itself isn't exactly novel, the band's infectious hooks and audience calls did worm their way into my brain and their quick set was satisfying.
Following a short break, Desaparecidos came to the stage, with Oberst's face obscured by a gray hoodie pulled down low. The band began with a new song, "The Left is Right," a loud, fast, pro-Occupy anthem, which did seem to finally awaken the audience. Oberst has never been one to shy away from sincerity, and there is no lack of it in Desaparecidos' subject matter. The bulk of the Desaparecidos songs are almost exclusively political, with themes of money, immigration, corruption and struggle.
Oberst dedicated "Marikkkopa" to Kris Kobach, saying that because of his work on some of the country's most stringent anti-immigration legislation, "There is a special dirty place in hell for him... Go fuckin' fuck yourself." The song also blasts Sheriff Joe Arpaio, now well-known for his own hard-line stance on immigration in Arizona.
The show was fairly well-attended, though may have been a better fit at the Bottleneck - Liberty Hall's floor filled up for the headliner, but the balcony was completely empty, save for a handful of sleepy loungers taking respite in Liberty Hall's comfortable (albeit quite small) seats.
I didn't know what to expect out of this show having never seen Desaparecidos or Bright Eyes live before - it's definitely more punk than metal. While Desaparecidos' music is clearly bent harder than that of Bright Eyes, Conor Obert's distinctive bleaty voice is still apparent, and in this performance, effective. The band actually sounds more like fellow Omahans Cursive rather than Bright Eyes due to some interesting time signature changes, Oberst's Tim Kasher-like cadences and the heavy bass and percussion.
The crowd only got more responsive and worked up as the show went on, and from the balcony, I could see a healthy mosh pit break out during "Survival of the Fittest." Crowd surfers emerged and were pulled onto the stage by the band's roadies, as fists pumped in the air to the beat.
The band returned to perform its encore, and dedicated "Anonymous" to "computer nerds" (Oberst's words) who, he explained, are the only ones who can save democracy. He encouraged them to steal from the U.S. Government and Bank of America, as well as anyone who "thinks it's okay to read your emails, listen to your phone calls."
The highlight of the evening was a performance of the Clash's "Spanish Bombs," for which Oberst invited the So So Glos to join in. The So So Glos were apparently watching the show from the side stage, drinking cans of beer. They appeared delighted to share the stage, and danced around, cans in hand, to the Clash's beat.
Desaparecidos finished the night with "Hole in One," another song decrying money worship, from the band's first release. I say first as Oberst has indicated a new Desaparecidos release is in the works. Between this news, work with Bright Eyes, and work with Monsters of Folk (Oberst's project also featuring Jim James from My Morning Jacket and M. Ward), it's clear that Oberst may hate money, but looooves work. Bring it. This is fun stuff.
The Left Is Right
The Underground Man
Mall Of America
The Happiest Place On Earth
Man And Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)
Man And Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)
Te Amo Camilia Vallejo
Survival Of The Fittest
Spanish Bombs (The Clash) - with The So So Glos
Hole In One