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Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeFollowing a now-infamous start to the Cassadaga tour that began at the Pabst Theatre and concluded just months ago, Bright Eyes returned to the Pabst theatre for a new, fall tour show and with many in the crowd wondering what Conor Oberst might do. But far from the white suits, stage-filling band and inebriated ending to the last show, Bright Eyes' return performance was dressed down, featured four musicians and ended in a comparatively tame manner.
Aside from "Classic Cars," the 75-minute set relied entirely on older material. The set began with a shuffling "An Attempt to Tip the Scales," and Oberst spitting into the crowd, before he settled in on a feverish but controlled pace. "Spring Cleaning" featured Oberst gently plodding behind piano before the outro expanded into a wall of sound, while the groove-driven "Lover I Don't Have To Love" and the semi-cheery "Bowl of Oranges" were delivered with constant intensity. The set-ending "Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)" built up to a chaotic mass, to which Oberst simply walked off stage still playing his guitar.
Only talking to the crowd once to thank them for coming to the show, Oberst may have been saying a bit more (re: about the last show...) with a cover of Tom Petty's "Walls," which fit in Oberst's range precisely. The final song of the evening was a new, rocking tune that began with scathing guitars and eventually inspired Oberst to climb atop the drum set, kick at his keyboardist's synthaxe, and eventually toss his guitar and amp in a pile at the front of the stage-- matching the intensity of his own material and leaving instruments in his wake.
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