Reviews

Bright Eyes + The Faint

Nicole Schuman

A dynamic turncoat, Connor Oberst shakes off his emo skivvies for more digital fare. The result: fewer tears, fewer horn-rims and more dancing...

Bright Eyes + The Faint

Bright Eyes + The Faint

City: Toronto
Venue: The Docks Entertainment Complex
Date: 2005-05-18

Bright Eyes
The Faint
Indie rock demi-god, Conor Oberst, stumbled into the Docks Entertainment Complex in Toronto, Canada, with his large, Bright Eyes band in tow, eager to deliver his newest creations to northern fans. Oberst played most of the selections from one of his two new albums, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. On this clear evening, facing the ultra-sleek, ultra-hip city skyline, Oberst contributed to the ultra-appreciative urban feel. Those seeking the folksy, preaching Bright Eyes of old may have been disappointed. Oberst never truly gets away from his oozing, depressive feel, but Digital Ash is a bit livelier than his other efforts. Its tunes are mildly danceable, something that adds a unique joy to their performance. Oberst and his seemingly ten-piece band played for well over an hour and a half, engulfing the room with guitar thrashing, vodka swilling and undecodable babble. The Docks may have just had poor sound, but honestly, I couldn't understand a word of what he was saying, lyrically or otherwise. It also may have been the venue, packed wall to wall with people or the extra-strong Canadian-bred Labatts the bartender was feeding me. But one could clearly see that Oberst is a dynamic turncoat, successful in spurning his safety net of indie-folk protests and self-wallowing love songs. The band performed strongly and cleanly from Digital Ash, with highlights including "Down in a Rabbit Hole", "Gold Mine Gutted" and the bob-tastic "Arc of Time". I have to admit, after waiting five years to see Mr. Oberst, I wasn't as excited as I should have been to see the man some are calling the Bob Dylan of my generation. At the first glance of his wispy body and scraggly hair onstage, I admit, a tear was shed. But as the performance wore on, I found myself disappointed that Oberst hadn't performed any of the shocking, drunken stage antics that he was known for in past tours. Of course, drunkenness was a factor, but there was no crying or wailing onstage, as my friends had promised me. I'm a sucker for rock theatrics, but for those who enjoy just music, I'm sure they got what they paid for. I was hoping for some of the jaunts of old, such as "The Calendar Hung Itself" or "Oh, You are the Roots that Sleep Beneath My Feet and Hold the Earth in Place." Digital Ash is certainly a schizophrenic conception of Oberst's mind alone Dance-rock geniuses the Faint opened with a wowing, energetic show. This band perfected the Brit-pop-bop fever before the Killers ever hit the radio. The Faint are raw, fantastic, and utterly sensational live. If you thought the band's albums were good, the live show provides the peak for a true fan. Even if you don't know the Faint, within minutes the band will reel you in, with pulsating beats and throbbing, sweaty pulses of pure rock, with a slight twinge of artistry injected between.
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