Conor Oberst featuring Dawes at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, OH
This one is a bit of a treat for me. I’ve been a Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes fan since my teens and one of my favorite bands of the past few years is Dawes. When I heard they would not only be touring together, but that Dawes would be Conor’s backing band I was thrilled.
I noticed that the crowd was a bit strange very early. Conor Oberst has long been an emo idol, swooned over by fans since the late 90s, so I expected a certain amount of “we love you Conor” and the like from the crowd. Instead what I experienced were a handful of 30+ women behind me who literally wept through half of the concert and in between sobs yelled “Conor, look at me!” and other such desperate pleas. In the group of seats to me left were a group of guys who seemed more suited to a frat party than a concert. They consistently talked obnoxiously loudly through the show only to hoot and holler after each song as though they had actually been listening rather than getting drunker and drunker by the minute.
I probably come off as a bit of a curmudgeon and a fun-hater – and maybe I am. However, I feel that it’s incredibly disrespectful of concert goers to disrupt the show for those around them as well as for the performers. This show was one I had been looking forward to for months, so I tried my best to not let this smattering of discourteous patrons ruin my experience. Dawes played their country, folk tinged rock with restraint and calm, at times unleashing Taylor Goldsmith on lead guitar for moments that seemed much bigger because of the relative serenity of the majority of their set. Taylor Goldsmith is an incredibly talented guitarist and a vocalist with an effortlessly big voice with the smoothness of Jackson Browne (who Dawes have also backed up on tour).
When Conor’s set began it was clear that gone was the uncomfortable, awkward teenager of days past. Instead Oberst took the stage with the confidence and poise of a seasoned performer he has grown into. For someone who often writes so many very sad songs, he was upbeat and jovial with the crowd and seemed to really enjoy having Dawes back him up as he often threw a glance or a smirk at one of the members of the backing band when they would do something particularly interesting. There’s something so satisfying about seeing a group of people on stage who seem to actually be enjoying themselves. All in all, I was still able to enjoy a fantastic show from two of my favorite bands and snap some great photos.
Conor Oberst with Dawes: