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Volume 68, Issue 137, Monday, April 21, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Fans flock to see legendary Oberst

Cara Sarelli
The Daily Cougar

The Engine Room heated up Friday night with a show from the latest craze in indie-turning-mainstream, Bright Eyes, the brainchild of Omaha, Neb. native and old school Saddle Creek records creator Conor Oberst. 



Conor Oberst of indie-rock darling Bright Eyes played to a sold-out Engine Room on Friday night.

Dixie Ann Dalton/The Daily Cougar

A large number of fans, equally split between male and female, showed up to see Oberstis performance. Whether they were drawn by his musical skills, intelligence, inspirational lyrics or just plain sex appeal is up in the air; the point is they came. 

Those who arrived with tickets in hand were no doubt thankful, as Ticketmaster had sold out the show, but the venue had few tickets left to be sell at the door to nail-biting fans who wished theyid ordered pre-sale online.

Eventually, with the audience poised and ready to be entertained, opening act Her Space Holiday began its set.

The Austin-based band, which joined Bright Eyes only for its three Texas tour dates, surely won more than a few Houston fans during its stay on the stage. 

HSH performed six of their original numbers from albums including Manic Expressive and Home Is Where You Hang Yourself. Marc Bianchi and his girlfriend Keely Chanteloup collaborate to play HSHis mixes from samples and keyboards, which sound like a mix of i80s new wave with lower key vocals with poetry guaranteed to impress any of Beckis most elitist fans.

Arab Strap played next. The bandis Scottish accents alone garnered attention, but luckily for those less than easily amused, it turned out to be pretty talented to. When members of Arab Strap exited the stage ­ 12 songs and a couple beers later ­ they left knowing they had charmed their audience with traditional rock vocals, guitar and keys romanticized by violin and sparingly used drums. For more information on Arab Strap, go to www.arabstrap.com/uk/.

As for Bright Eyes, when Oberst and the rest of the band took the stage, the crowd was more than ready. Arab Strap and HSH were good, but Bright Eyes secured its limelight less than a year ago and the band wonit likely be giving it up anytime soon. 

The hype began with the October release The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, a concept album which is going down in history as legendary. With a couple months of sales it rushed up to Billboardis top 200 ­ not a small feat. 

The albumis promotional tour brought on even more exposure, with a traveling band just shy of 20 musicians to execute the orchestration.

But for this tour, Oberst stuck to his roots and played exactly what he wanted, a combination of old and new tunes in a comprehensive set list only the most hardcore fans could fully appreciate. 

Oberst reunited with the simplicity of folky guitar riffs and rhyming lyrics warm enough to draw everyone in, and it worked. 

Oberst played 13 songs, including three encores, continuing his trend of ending his performances with a love song, which sealed the admiration of his listeners.

Bright Eyes

The Engine Room

The Verdict: No matter the set list or size of the band, Bright Eyes delivers a quality performance. 

 Send comments to dcshobiz@mail.uh.edu

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