Bumbershoot 2017, Day Two: Conor Oberst

all photos by Morgen Schuler

Back in 2015, Conor Oberst stepped away from the Desaparecidos’ tour due to “laryngitis, anxiety, and exhaustion.” During his recuperation in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, he began to create the songs for last year’s full-length, the acoustic LP Ruminations. (Earlier this year, he released the follow-up Salutations which features full-band versions of those songs.) From his KEXP in-studio session on Saturday afternoon to his performance later that night at the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, it’s wonderful to see Oberst, rested and relaxed, surrounded by friends.

During his performance from the Fisher Green stage, Oberst pulled from his vast discography, jumping from the Ruminations track “Barbary Coast (Later)” to 2008’s “Get-Well-Cards” to the Bright Eyes track off 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, “Train Under Water.” He kept the stage banter to a minimum. While introducing the kind-of obscure “Southern State” (it appeared on the 2005 Home EP, a split with Britt Daniel of Spoon), he babbled, “This song’s about Athens, Georgia. You ever been to Athens, Georgia? The one in America, not the one in… [realizes where this is going]… Athens… Georgia.”

The other time he talked up a storm was when introducing the Ruminations‘ track “A Little Uncanny” — “This is a song about unbelievable things that become a reality…” he began, quickly dissolving into a rant about the current president. He was talking so quickly, my pen to paper couldn’t keep up, but every other phrase out of his spit-foamed mouth was “fucking piece of shit.” (It’s a shame his set list didn’t follow with “When the President Talks to God”, but he got his point across.)

Towards the end of his set, he stepped to the front of the stage to play the beloved 2005 single “First Day Of My Life,” a sweet reminder of how long his music has been soundtracking our lives. Stay healthy, Conor.

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