Still Cruisin’… (Bright Eyes / Mountain Goats Concert on July 29, 2011 Review)

31 Jul

Not 24 hours passed, and it was time for round two. Punching the air, jumping in place, getting pumped, I was ready. Fairly damp from all the day’s rain, but nonetheless ready. Boy were the fates on my side, the torrential downpours ended literally as the Mountain Goats took the stage.

Concert Review

When: July 29, 2011
Where: The field outside The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont
Set-up: Everyone waited on a line along the edge of the field until 6PM, when tickets were ripped and we ran as fast as our little legs could carry us to the front. and. center. of the barricade around the stage. Front. And Center. At. A Bright Eyes. Concert. This is literally what dreams are made of. I’m going to have to start dreaming bigger, because as of late they’re all coming true. A tail, perhaps? Back to the stage. Last night there wasn’t a barrier between the stage and the audience, but this stage was much lower and in turn, more susceptible to fans getting bright ideas (it’s the only thing to do when you’ve already got Bright Eyes, haha) to join the show. But this gal was blessed with long arms, so no fuss. I got it covered.

the Mountain Goats

The first thing I feel I have an obligation to mention is Peter’s (the bassist) suit. It was rad. It was this dark blue suit with green plaid. And the best part? Cargo pant pockets on the sides. You know that expression used for a mullet- business in the front, party in the back? These pants were the stylish compliment to the that phrase- business in the front and back, party and space for tots on the sides. Also, John (the lead singer and guitarist) wore a tie both nights, which greatly impressed me. More rockers should class it up, half windsor style.

Yesterday I talked about that lovely smile of John’s, and today I shared one with him (following the formula)- he smiled to simultaneously to himself and the world, he looked out to the crowd, found ME, and gave me a million watt-er. Then next time I’m feeling sick or down, I’m going to unbottle that grin and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work better than extra strength Advil. It’s all natural to boot.

the Mountain Goats Setlist:

1. Wild Sage
2. Psalm 40:2
3. We Shall All Be Healed
(here John pauses to retune his guitar and jokes about how lo-fi his old recordings actually were, how out of tune his instruments were- so much so that people would comment on how interesting it was that he played in the key of F#, to which he’d reply “No, it was A!”
4. Love Love Love
5. Birth of Serpents
6. Ethiopians (I think)
7. Damn These Vampires
8. The Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of
9. Prowl Great Cain
10. We Shall All Be Healed
11. House Guest
(fantastic choice for a closing song, really got the crowd going and what fun)

Listen to Damn These Vampires by the Mountain Goats

Bright Eyes

I cannot believe I how close I was. I could see the ring on Conor’s middle finger (not the emphasis on middle, the ring finger’s still bare and there’s still hope mwahahaha!), his totes chill sk8r shoez, and the red streaks in Laura’s hair.

Speaking of Laura, her mike (both nights) is the only thing I could comment on with slight negativity. Though beautiful, her voice seems very quiet. She sings back up in a number of songs, though unless directly featured her voices was almost inaudible. A shame. When it could be heard, boy did it add that x-factor. I found it most notable in “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”, when she took the reigns on the chorus lines of  “you write such pretty words / but life’s no story book / love’s an excuse to get hurt”- very different from the original recording, but I think I liked the live better. She nailed that haunting, wanting, breaking tone. Man, when that piano line started it was as if someone had turned the lights down to very low, here we go, it just got sexy up in hur. And the rawness on stage, now listening to the studio version it feels so tame. I want the beast back! Laura also got a big, fat solo on “Wrecking Ball” which she really poured her soul into. There seems to be a lot of soul pouring where Bright Eyes is concerned. Goes with the territory.

This was during the last song, during “Ladder Song” only Conor and Nate stayed on stage.

This concert was sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s, and they put up a curfew for the concert- lights out at 9:45 or no ice cream. Weird, yes. When you get Bright Eyes, you give them as much stage time as they want. It’s that pesky 11th Commandment that the winds of time washed away, but I’d swear it was there. Conor actually seemed bitter about it, he brought it up a few times saying that he wished they could play more songs but Ben and Jerry were waiting back stage with some chunky cherrylicious ice cream that they just couldn’t say no to. It was a tactful way of letting the crowd know that he wasn’t happy about ending early and cutting songs- and it was nice to know that he really did want to play more. It wasn’t just a paycheck, this was somewhere he wanted to be, something he genuinely wanted to be doing.

Though shorter than the night before, boy did Bright Eyes make the encore count, it turned into a full-on jamfest. Peter had been watching the last few songs from the side of the stage, and was brought out and a drum and a stick to play with (which he looked very happy to bang about with)- one of Bright Eyes’ stage engineers even came out on to the stage and took a picture of him on his phone, guess this wasn’t a regular occurrence. The set was the epitome of quality not quantity.


Speaking of Bright Eyes’ stage engineer (that’s what I’m calling him, though I’m not exactly sure of his job title- he tuned the guitars before the band came out, taped down the setlists, turned the shiny little knobs on stage when they needed to be turned, and switched Conor’s guitars from song to song). When he would come out between songs and hand Conor whatever stringed instrument was necessary, I had a littlc chuckle. On their own, the engineer looked a bit tall and Conor a bit short, but when they stood next to each other it was downright chuckle-worthy.

Other happy little moments: Conor’s dancing. Last night featured more doogieing, but tonight still had some flare. Especially on “Arc of Time (Time Code)”, he acted out feathers falling, becoming bros with JC, being a chalk outline, getting dolled up (he’s a natural at imaginary mascara). Such whimsey I didn’t expect, but loved. Absolutely loved.

Another thing I loved? The trumpet! The flugelhorn! Nate Walcott is a master. On the records, I’ve never really paid attention to the prominence of these instruments, but during both shows they proved to be one of my favorite parts. Conor would walk over to Nate’s fortress of electronic equipment, from which he’d stand and let bright and clear notes ring, and, wow. Speaking of interesting instruments, I was close enough tonight to get a good look at Mike Mogis’ steel guitar set-up. Very cool, very impressive. Very tempting to learn, if only for the intrigue factor.

At the end of shows, I always casually meander towards the stage to see if I can snag a pick or a setlist, the chase being almost as fun as the prize. Boy was the chase one to remember on this occasion. Right away a few setlists were thrown out into the crowd, a few more handed to people towards the side of the stage, until only one remained. The one stuck down with purple tape, the one that had to be taped down because Conor danced and spun around so much. Conor’s setlist. Slithering to the front of the pouncing crowd, I put on my biggest eyes and widest smile and asked, using the manners momma taught me, if they could possibly get that one little piece of paper. Please? Pretty please? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?! Efforts rewarded. After a few sideways glances and a few decades of waiting, but head honcho tore the sheet off the stage, walked with purpose, and handed it straight to me. Kakaaaaa! Conor’s eyes had looked at the very piece of paper I was holding. If that’s not a sign that we’re meant to share our lives, I don’t know what is. Step one: share paper. Step two: share vows. It’s simple math-a-mat-ix, as Rocky would say.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when my dad was running to the car after the concert, the parking lot a zoo of concert animals trying to escape. He sees one of the security guards from the beginning of the night, acknowledges him, and when the guy recognizes him he says “You’re the guy who was there before everyone else, right? Very chill.” This describes our lives pretty well, and how people view us. We’re devoted and chill. ;)

Bright Eyes Setlist:

This time, the mysterious question marks turned out to be, uhhh, nothing. There were only 3 encore songs.

Listen to Old Soul Song (For The New World Order) by Bright Eyes
Listen to Land Locked Blues by Bright Eyes
Listen to Road To Joy by Bright Eyes
Listen to Approximate Sunlight by Bright Eyes
Listen to Easy/Lucky/Free by Bright Eyes

3 Responses to “Still Cruisin’… (Bright Eyes / Mountain Goats Concert on July 29, 2011 Review)”


  1. Our Prayer… (Pocket Vinyl, A Band You’ll Love to Love) « Blog Only Knows - August 2, 2011

    […] been very nervous for the past few days, very nervous indeed. At the Bright Eyes concert in Vermont there was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time: in line before the gates opened, in front of the stage […]

  2. The Man with All the Toys… (Maintaining Humility with Success) « Blog Only Knows - August 3, 2011

    […] Oberst gave a similar shout out at the concert on Friday. Before “Another Travelin’ Song”, he dedicated the tune to all those artists […]

  3. Good Timin’… (Bright Eyes’ Live Recordings EP) « Blog Only Knows - August 16, 2011

    […] after the Bright Eyes concerts, all I wanted was more Bright Eyes. More more more! *cue heavy utensil banging on a table and a […]

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