18 September 2007

Dear Bright Eyes, Please Save Me From Your Fans, Or, Conor Oberst Gave Me His Cold

I was in NY with Jess the past two weeks, spending most of the time complaining about how great bands--or, really, all bands--always pass Olympia up. The day I get back home I hear from my catsitter that Bright Eyes is performing that night here in Oly.

I'll spare you the gruesome details of trying to get tickets. I got in the door just before 8, sporting my I Hate Children frock and already scowling when I realized this was an all-ages show. "All Ages" meaning, of course, "15-20."

I maneuvered my way up front, surrounded on all sides by squeaky high school girls. It was virtually a total clambake* up there. Kimya Dawson was up first. The K-recs star and Oly native twittered through several songs about farts and drinking, and mentioned hanging out at the Co-Op several times. (Sorry, I'm just not a Kimya fan.)

She was followed by the unimpressive Nik Freitas. The crowd was politely quiet, perhaps too much so. Between songs, I was thinking I'd been to livlier funerals. Things didn't pick up much until Bright Eyes joined Nik for a final song which woke the crowd up.

Sometime after 9:30 Bright Eyes came on, and the mass of people crowded tightly rushed the stage, creating an uncomfortable sardine/mosh pit situation. There were guys with cameras begging the people up front to get closer ("I'll, like, put my soul in a little jar for you!") and other guys without cameras simply begging, met with rude replies ("No way man, I waited in line for 7 hours, there's no way you're getting up here!")

Conor was noticibly beginning to pause between songs to listen to all this. He finally broke tension with "Hey you guys, be nice to each other. You're giving me flashbacks of high school." And, later: "You know, it's not like at home. We can hear everything you guys are saying up here."

The crowd pathetically panned the indie superstar regardless, with multiple thanks for coming to Oly, and other desperate Oly shoutouts: "How do you like it here on Olympia, Conor?" "Hey Conor, are you drinking Olympia beer?"

Wow, people. Just wow. See, this is where I should be talking about the music and how awesome the setlist was, and how hard they rocked, but really, It was one of the best shows I'd seen simultaneously occurring on one of the worst settings I'd been to. The crowd was almost too distracting to really enjoy the show, which was a tragedy.

At one point the crowd wave had thrown me so far forward I found myself almost flopped up on stage. I was grabbing onto something for support, realizing a moment later it was Conor's cowboy-boot-clad foot. Whoops. As Jess said, "between that and Andrew Bird's socks, we're pretty much covered the indie foot fetish market."

Perhaps now I know why artists don't come here more often: we're so excited we wet ourselves and then throw ourselves at the feet of whomever we're seeing en masse. Imagine a large, urine-soaked throng of girls who all resemble that one girl on American Idol who was crying for Sanjaya. Yeeeeech.

In addition, it was obvious Conor was suffering a pretty bad cold. Throughout the set, he alternated swigs of Tecate (always a wise choice when you're ill), honey, and that throat spray stuff. Now, I've never seen Bright Eyes before, so perhaps he's just a particularly phlegm-y singer, but one or two people actually told him he'd spit into their mouths. Probably an exaggeration, but I'd safely venture that most in the first row or two in front on him were covered with a thin slime by the end of the night (self included).

Again, yeeech. What that supposed to be a brag? Seriously, fellow Olympians, you're making the rest of us look bad here. And don't even get me started on the girls who were hitting on the slide guitarist the entire time.

Horrifically distracting crowd aside, the show rocked too much for one hand. The untitled new song they cranked out at the end had everyone worth their rocksalt headbanging and jumping like it was Nirvana. I guess, in our own way, it really was a kind of Nirvana. The last song, especially.

Three Imaginary Girls even caught video of it at the Spokane show:

At least I got the setlist. Now where is my honey and throat spray...?

*Clambake = all-female group. The opposite of a Sausage Fest.


Nick P. said...

I hope the kids didn't tear your $74 shirt while you rushed for the set list.

Ten said...

I just caught Bright Eyes with The Felice Brothers (who all but stole the show) and had a similar experience. I could've ignored it but for the one female high-schooler who found pleasure in squawking every lyric she knew loud & clear, painfully off-key & directly into my right ear (which my finger then had to spend half the night in). What was this? A Dashboard Confessional concert? Maybe this is more about my general hatred of show-singers...