Story and Photos / Ericka Clevenger
Hollywood Forever hosted yet another, seamless night under the stars this past Friday (Sept. 23) . Hollywood Forever, is final resting place to many stars and founders of LA, make it perfect match for a cultural and spiritual experience, woven into the events the Cemetery hosts. A landmark dripping with history, exudes truthful ambiance between the performer, the fans, and those who rest in peace, creating an intimate personal experience, and not just another sound warped show that become a dime a dozen in Los Angeles. The fact that you can bring your own food/drinks and blankets in, make Hollywood Forever the BEST VENUE in Los Angeles. You can choose the way you want to experience the show, and that is the most important thing as a fan. This also keeps the cost of the experience down, creating an overall more meaningful experience.
Kurt Vile and the Violators opened the show with Runner Ups, proving to be anything but. The Philadelphia native, released his second proper studio album Smoke Rings for My Halo earlier this year through Matador, and plans to release an EP in November So Outta Reach. Vile’s falsetto, and love for acoustic driven rock songs in the realm of Folk-psych-rock has gained him respect in the ability to take pieces of his influences, and mix them with raw soul, creating something entirely his own. Listening to his music, you feel a bit of nostalgia as he embraces older sounds, gritty drone based interludes, traditional finger plucking ballads, mixed with psychedelia modern sounds.
Vile and his band played a strong, flawless set ,causing his fans to melt, and Bright Eyes fans to have a new obsession. Vile has a strong cult following for his genius ability to write an amazing album from the ground up, and put on a live show that is meaningful and relatable. Here is a guy who has come out of the CD-R has become a role model for the average musician working a day job, now living the dream. If you break it down, these musicians (Kurt Vile, Ariel Pink, R. Stevie More, etc.) have brought this DIY mindset to another level. Breaking through the bars of the reliance on the machine, by creating a rich sensory experience through their music, and doing it themselves. CD-R allows you to record yourself, giving the artist complete creative control, the ability for immediate release, and the making it accessible to everyone.
Vile ended his set, just as the sun was setting, bringing in streaks of purples, pinks and grays that created a seemingly post apocalyptic sky, and adding to the intensity of the music, and the environment. Kurt Vile will be joining Bright Eyes on a few future dates, and then to open for Flaming Lips, who played two days at the cemetery in June.
Bright Eyes is a three piece consisting of multi instrumentalist and producer Mike Mogas, and Trumpet Piano Player, Nate Walcott. Formed in Omaha Nebraska, under the flagship of Saddle Creek Records, a Nebraska based label founded by Conor and his brother Justin Oberst. In a recent interview, Oberst was asked what “Bright Eyes” meant. He said it is just a term of Endearment.
As a Bright Eyes fan, and Nebraska native, I understand the Ten year Conor Oberst phenomenon. It goes beyond a feeling, deeper than the music, and hits you right in your heart. It is a decade of growth, change, and maturing. As Cat Stevens is to Harold and Maude, Bright Eyes is to my generations youth. Running around the bright green fields of Omaha Nebraska in a Ren and Stimpy shirt “falling out of love at this volume”, to mourning over my first broken heart “Lover I don’t have to love” Bright Eyes was prominent in my world.
The atmosphere of the cemetery and the dedicated fans, was truly moving. The first few rows stood smiling, ear-to-ear bight eyed teens screaming and singing every word, and trickled back to those still seated on their blankets nestled together with cheese and wine. Bright eyes first two records were hauntingly depressing but so much time has passed and so many layers have been brought on my the multi instrumentalist and his band, that even “Bowl of Oranges” can be sang with a smile on your face. People seemed to be falling in love all around me, as Bright Eyes played a flawless set to die for-their first show in Los Angeles, in seven years.
Opening with “Four Winds” from their 2007 album Cassadaga, and following quickly by “Old Soul Song” Conor proves age in the sound of his voice, and the meanings inside of his words. The isolation one feels in a one way street Religion town as Nebraska, The war in Iraq, to the every day broken hearted streets of Silverlake California, Bright Eyes is telling a story of live, love and suffering, in every way possible way. Folk to Electronic, their music encompasses much more than just your average indie rock band. The energy and passion for the show and music is really beautifully displayed as Oberst’s performance becomes vert theatrical. One minute he will be using his entire body to delicately paint his vocals with himself, and in an instant be on the other side of the stage headbanging on the keys, singing in a completely different tune. The lights, and smoke and stage accents, brought out the rockstar in Oberst, as switching from his famous talk-singing voice, to deep pit-of-the-stomach wails was done using little effort. Although half of the attendees were deceased, this was one of the liveliest shows I have been to in a long time. Oberst has matured in many ways over the years, and his light hearted demeanor proved him a paved path to have a long, lasting music career. From Emo School girl wails, to anxiety filled soft spoken folk ballads, to synth driven electro-pop belts, Conor’s music matches perfectly the growth from Boy to man. Marking Conor Oberst to be, my generations Bob Dylan.
For more pictures of this magical night go here.