Conor Oberst Entertains Music Hall of Williamsburg Late at NightJune 8th, 2015
Conor Oberst – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 6, 2015
“Who’s tired out there?” asked Conor Oberst from the stage of Music Hall of Williamsburg at around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, eliciting a hearty response from many in the sold-out crowd. “You and me both,” said the musician solemnly. Oberst and his band had indeed had a busy day, performing a set at Governors Ball earlier that evening and then taking the stage in Brooklyn around 12:30 in the morning, following a surprise set by Sharon Van Etten. And while the band may have felt a little worse for wear, they managed to summon some hidden energy reserves for a nearly two-hour show.
Oberst and his band highlighted material from his most recent record, 2014’s Upside Down Mountain, an album that highlights his evolution as a songwriter over the past several years, with much of the angst and anxiety that fueled his early work in Bright Eyes giving way to a more philosophical take on his place in world. Yet Oberst didn’t shy away from putting this evolution on display, with new songs like “Time Forgot,” “Double Life” and “Hundreds of Ways” taking their place alongside 2002’s “Laura Laurent” and “Lover I Don’t Have to Love.” And despite his fatigue, Oberst also didn’t shy away from some of his more aggressive numbers, pragmatically removing his hat so that he could bang his head around to “Governor’s Ball” and “Another Travelin’ Song,” taking several opportunities to stand precariously on the drum kit while singing and strumming.
A little past 2:00 a.m., the band and crowd were still going strong, and Oberst ended the night with another complementary juxtaposition of songs: the lovely ode to being young and lonely in New York City, “Lua”—nicely augmented with vocals by Larkin Poe and a trumpet solo from Nathaniel Walcott—followed by a jittery, rowdy rendition of Oberst’s passionate entreaty “I Don’t Want to Die (In the Hospital).” And with that, a good night’s sleep was well earned, for musicians and audience alike. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK