It’s kind of crazy to realize that it’s been nearly a decade since Bright Eyes played St. Louis, but don’t worry, Mr. Oberst made up for all those missed years during his sold-out show at the Pageant.
On their first night of the tour, Dawes opened the evening with a solid set of AM-country rock goodness. While their private party later at Vintage Vinyl was all about getting cozy, their time at the Pageant set out vibes of kicking back with some drinks and enjoying the tunes. My first encounter with the group was within the basement confines of the Gargoyle and while it was enjoyable, it felt great to see them command a bigger stage this time and being given a larger crowd to showcase the new material to. (Yes, I didn’t catch them opening for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.) Possibly the highlight of the night was seeing a table of 50-somethings sitting next to a frat boy on a date and all of them singing along to the chorus of “When My Time Comes.”
Photo notes: A mostly hazy affair during the first three songs with just enough light to make it a toss-up pick between the f2.8 zoom or f1.4 prime. Taylor (guitar, vocals) and Wylie (bass) are a breeze to shoot, but the other two members (Griffin on drums and Tay on keyboard) were a bit more challenging with the drum set pushed back into a lesser lit portion of the stage and the massive keyboards obstructing most shooting angles of Tay from pit below. For those shooting Dawes in the near future, you actually may want to consider leaving the pit and position yourself on higher ground to get a better angle for Tay.
Based on what I’ve heard of Bright Eyes / Conor Oberst through his music and activism, I’ll admit that I went in expecting that cynicism and moodiness to bleed over into his stage persona. And even though those darker themes came up as he mined material (some even 15 years old), there was a strong feeling that Oberst set out to also make the evening a memorable experience, roaming the stage to reach out and touch the hands of those in the front rows and being incredibly engaging that evening. The sheer production of the event was equally memorable with a light show that would stun deer and extra instrumentalists that nicely filled out songs (yeah horn player!). And even though I haven’t really loved a lot of the more recent albums, being blown away by them live had me digging out my older Bright Eyes albums the next morning.
Photo notes: Oh those lights. The initial onslaught of spotlights and colors was intimidating at first, but like a good aikido fighter, it was all about letting them do the work for you. Rather than constantly adjusting my settings and fighting the changing colors, I found it easier (certainly less nerve wracking) to leave things be and wait for the clean white lights to cycle in before firing away.
The Administrative Stuff: