Last night I drove to Milwaukee to catch Bright Eyes for the first time. I’ve enjoyed, though not loved, his recently released album, Cassadaga, which has yet to hit me in a way like his I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning or Digital Ash in a Digital Urn did back in 05.
With strong and well received opening sets by Oakley Hall & McCarthy Trenching, the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee once again found itself sold out and full of enthusiastic fans waiting for the full-band Bright Eyes treatment.
Preparing themselves for their upcoming tour, the band spent the previous two days in Milwaukee using the Pabst as their rehearsal space for ironing out all the intricacies of their production. Nonetheless, you always have to walk into the first show of a tour expecting some gaffs and things to not always go as planned, however last night’s performance contained more than a few such instances.
Because this was my first time seeing Bright Eyes, it was hard for me to discern last night’s performance/antics from a typical show. There was a lot of chatter by Conor between songs, mostly him praising the aforementioned opening acts, which he continued to do multiple times to the point of annoyance. At some point he decided to give his guitars to the crowd after each song, prompting his stage hand and manager into the crowd to retrieve the instruments constantly. For the encore he made two attempts at stage diving into the crowd and again needed to be retrieved by management/security. This happened after an altogether frightening fall from the orchestral area which for a moment looked much more serious than it eventually appeared to be.
Outside of the antics and chatter the songs themselves were exactly what the crowd was looking for and were overwhelmingly received (minus the missed lyrics and chord changes). Unfortunately, the distractions, banter, and hijinks greatly outweighed the bright spots in the performance. Here’s hoping that the rest of the tour goes off a little better than last night.