What a treat it was to see two sonically pleasing bands on one bill last Saturday in Lowell. Since I had gone to Bonnaroo and had seen Wilco there, I though I'd sit this one out. But last minute I got my hands on a ticket, got my free Slurpee and headed down to the stadium of the Single-A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox.
The stars were aligned for this one. The Wilco merch was actually cool this time (after being let down a few times before), the sun was shining, a slight breeze blowing, and all they served was $7 Coors Light. Aye, there's the rub. Anyhow, it didn't matter because I was about to see a guy play who had made countless good albums under another name and whos new album, Outer South, is really fucking terriff.
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley band came out to no theme music, no real elements of suspense. They all had their instruments on and powered into the first song. And here's where Dan is not cool, because I don't know the name of the first song. As a matter of fact, I don't have his first solo album, Conor Oberst, because I am an idiot. Much of the set comprised of songs from that album, including (2 I knew!) "NYC Gone, Gone" and "I Don't Want To Die In The Hospital." The band gave the audience its money's worth, barely stopping in between songs - only once for Conor to say "Hi" and tell everyone how good Wilco was going to be. The highlight of the set was Outer South opener "Slowly (Oh Slowly)" with all of its swirling organs, and ragged glory. All in all, a reinvented Conor Oberst convinced me to pickup his first album and put a gigantic smile on my face. And, no - he didn't play ANY Bright Eyes songs, and I'm happier he didn't.
Here's my Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band camera-phone shot!
Wilco is an awesome band. Their lives shows are incredible because of how much they actually sound like they do on record - right down to every static buzz on Mikael Jorgenson's synthesizer and every sonic freakout on Nels Cline's old school Fender.
I was a little weary of seeing them this time, however, because it was the first time I had seen a band twice on the same tour. I thought I would just hear the same exact set list, but thank Christ I was wrong. They did open with "Wilco (The Song)" like every other night on the tour, and most of the songs were the same for the first half of the set. When it was time to switch it up, however, it was so incredibly worth it. "Nothingsevergonnastandinmyway (Again)" and "Via Chicago" were both added from the monumental Summerteeth, which I was elated about. From the latest album, "Sonny Feeling" was a whole lot of fun live and added on with "Deeper Down" as 'Songs I Didn't Hear Last Time.' The rain started coming down in buckets during "Spiders (Kidsmoke)," which only made it more fun.
Thanks to the rain, however, the guys were only able to come out and do "I'm The Man Who Loves You" as the finale, and that was at about 10:20. If there hadn't been rain, they would've rocked the shit outta that place until 11. Oh well. Great venue to see a band, as the LeLachuer Park staff was awesome, no asshole security guys or anything...let's hope they keep this going.