Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bright Eyes - Dull Show

I arrive just at the end of The Faint's set. An affable skinhead engages me at the urinals as to my opinion of The Faint. I ignore him and let him get an easy way out by making him think that I thought he was talking to someone else. But he destroys the unspoken social pact I was attempting to proffer by invoking the pity of the scorned stranger, instead trying to make me feel guilty for being oh so cool as to ignore him. So I say, "Oh, were you talking to me? Sorry, I was concentrating on something." The conversation meandered about until I told him that I had never heard of The Faint and that I was only there because a friend gave me the tickets. Conversation over. Maybe I'm being kranky but isn't there a guy thing that you don't talk to another guy when he's doing his business at the latrine? I contemplated that but then realized that in a darkened, loud club (with, I might add - the famous chill out area frustratingly roped off), the only place to really have meaningful social interactions with people is at the urinal (NH).

Then its into the club to stake out some space with a) breathing room, b) few to no smokers (I know this is so anti-rock and roll of me to look down on smoking in a club, after all isn't smoking the most democratic of self-destructive activities?) and c) a sweet spot for the sound system. The last is the holy grail of mine and I suspect few other club goers. Most people on this particular night seemed to get orgasmic when the wispy singer-songwriter, still fronting his lopsided moptop, appeared on the stage and, I fear, the actual music, lame as it was, appeared secondary in considerations of the search for the ultimate godhead. The space I find is adequate and has the added attraction of being near one of the many comely (and near to my age) bartenders. Alas, all my drinking for the night was pretty much accomplished at home watching J. Earl Brown (Dan Dority from Deadwood) do his best Brian Dennehy Badass update as the town bully in that swell B-movie classic Dunsmore.

I never really liked the whole Digital Ash in the Digital Urn or whatever young Conor is calling it. I think it is overreaching and he should have just stuck with Wake Me Up It's Morning (or whatever it's called). His morose almost comical world weariness mixes well with the folk-alt-country groove that Morning puts out but with the extended Bright Eyes orchestra doing his "digital" songs, it's only grating. "This song is about someone who broke my heart. I vowed that it would never get broken again. And it hasn't!" Give it 20 years, honey. As for heart-breakers, they were out in full force. The Conor Army where the motto is "We love you, Conor!" The uniform is low rider jeans and tank tops and the WACs of this Army are the Emo and Techno boyz who walk several paces behind the officers of The Conor Army. Projected behind the band are two large screens with what is I suppose some original video art - a scene from behind the windshield of a moving car that goes faster and faster until it dissolves into white noise, animation of the cover art from Digitual Urn, loops of clouds going over landscapes very fast and so on. The audience is frequently "dazzled" (more like annoyed) by sharp halogen lights. The overall effect is not so much information overload but the overwhelming effect of the speed in which information is pushed at the viewer. Hmmmm, I stroke my chin thoughtfully. Is perhaps Young Prince Conor, Commander in Chief of The Conor Army, telling us all to slow down and enjoy life a bit or is this just more of his morose depression and inability to comprehend the world or make a truly original statement?

I realize that I don't even care that much. I regret missing the previous tour which was the acoustic-alt-country thing because I realize that the whole Digital Ash thing is just an indulgence, an attempt just as franctic as the racing images for Oberst to cover all the bases and not get obsolete by the age of 22. Conor, don't worry, slow down and smell the digits.

So I didn't see if he would at some point kick the band off the stage and maybe sing "The President Talks To God" (hopefully sans 10 Gallon Cowboy Hat) which might have made this whole misguided enterprise worth the trip to U Street. This is the only contemporary protest song I've heard in years that, if given wider exposure (as if The Tonight Show isn't enough) would truly get a lot of self-righteous people's balls and tits in a twist. I mean, it is the most disconcerting thing about our President - does God really speak to him and what does that really say about either his sanity or God's discretion? But I've had enough of the light show, the video and the prematurely depressed frontman.

Instead, I trundle myself back to the circuitious subway ride home.


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