Conor Oberst's hardcore band Desaparecidos concluded a brief tour of the Eastern US with a 2-night sojourn at Webster Hall in Manhattan and I got to see both shows. I'd also seen the band in Asbury Park's famed Stone Pony a couple weeks earlier but unfortunately missed them in Philadelphia when I somehow lost the tickets between the car and the venue somewhere on the trash-filled streets of that filthy town and instead drowned my sorrows in many many beers and way too late a night with my friend. But that speedbump aside, I did get to see Conor and his mates play three times the last two weeks when I thought I'd never ever get the chance to see them live -- since they hadn't released a single between 2002 and last August and hadn't toured since 2003. Hell, they weren't so much of a band as a one-off punk side project by Bright Eyes' Oberst, but that one-off album -- "Read Music - Speak Spanish" -- was so deliciously beautiful that I have been wanting to see them live ever since and I'm finally sated. Again, sorry it's been so long since I've posted but I've been traveling nonstop for work and going to class and having a crazy busy life that only allowed me free time enough to see Conor and his band and be wonderfully happy again.
They played pretty much the same setlist at all three shows, in the same order, starting with "The Left is Right" (already the front runner for Vague Space Song of the Year 2013) and followed by "Happiest Place On Earth" (pretty much my favorite Desaparecidos song and pretty much the greatest rebel song ever sung). I don't exactly remember the order of the rest of the songs but they pretty much played their entire catalog -- all the songs from the single album plus the four songs released since last August. Conor talked a lot in between tracks, particularly in his introduction to "Anonymous" (which he says honors the jailed whistleblower Bradley Manning, and he implored us to take action to write our congressman and get him the fuck out of military prison) and "Marikkkopa", ripping apart racist evil fuck Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his band of racist evildoers in Arizona, even shocking his bandmates on Wednesday's final show with a graphic description of wanting to piss on his grave. But otherwise, it was just rock, full-on hardcore raging screaming rock that filled the room with majestic screeds and rippling dreams and -- particularly in the New York shows -- just filled me with so much relief and release and joy. To be able to scream as one with the rest of the packed house on lines like "our freedom comes at their expense makes sense does it?! dollars and sense..." or "the roar of the lion's logo on the screen, he is hungry, we should buy some popcorn!!"
And speaking of the crowds, they were pretty much sold out at all the shows in the tri-state area and the Tuesday night show at Webster Hall was absolutely insane. The mosh pit enveloped the entirety of the floor and I got somewhat intimately involved, ending up with a bloody scrape on my ankle that I didn't discover until the next day. It was fucking awesome. The pit was actually probably a little more dangerous on Wednesday -- filled with bigger guys out to tear up some shit and with the place not quite as full, given more room to operate -- but it was still fucking awesome. At the Stone Pony, it was unfortunately an all-ages show so the crowd didn't know all the music like in New York (some of the people there were probably in kindergarten when their last album came out) but they still had a roaring pit. Good times for all. The shows ended with a 3-song encore in New York: a cover of opening act Joyce Manor's "Constant Headache" (with the latter band joining them on stage), a cover of The Clash's "Spanish Bombs", and the Desaparecidos classic "Hole in One." Just a wonderful experience throughout. And Joyce Manor as an opening act was so good I ended up downloading all their albums after the Stone Pony show, buying a T-shirt in Webster Hall, and writing a post about them which will appear on its own tomorrow. For now, check out some live Conor and friends.
"The Left is Right"
This blog belongs to Bill Elenbark.
Lover of songs. Writer of wrongs.