To say that last nights KCRW Apogee Session guest of honor Conor Oberst, was all bright-eyed and bushy tailed would not only be a terrible pun, it wouldn’t be far from the truth.
The indie singer songwriter is usually known by and large as having an introspective and somber style but he showed the small Santa Monica crowd a more playful side even surprising some of his tour crew with quick wit and a rye sense of humor.
On the business side of things, Conor was promoting his latest album “Upside Down Mountain” which has been pegged as somewhat of a return to form for his solo work.
But as he mentioned in his mid-session interview with host Anne Litt, his style hasn’t really changed over the two-plus decades of writing but hopefully – as he joked – his ability has.
Indeed all aspects of Conor were on full display as he wove through new and old songs, even incorporating a few Bright Eyes tracks like “Bowl Of Oranges” and “We Are Nowhere” to the delight of the crowd.
A noteworthy distinction was how much his new producer on the album and long time friend, Jonathan Wilson incorporated his signature southwestern style giving the live versions of songs like “Hundreds Of Ways” a touch of twang and Bakersfield swing.
During the course of the interview, Oberst talked about lyricism in song writing, being a kid in Omaha and discovering new music through his parents, (a particularly great story about a driveway moment with Don McLean’s “American Pie“) and how much his sense of place inspires core principals of songs.
Conor kept a rapt audience with every twist and turn in the evening. From the delicate solo-ish song “Lua” to the uptempo closing songs of “Another Travelin Song” and “Pretty Good“, a John Prine cover. They recently shared the stage together at L.A.’s Greek Theater and Conor said it was a true honor to play with someone who has inspired him so much
Conor Oberst Live at KCRW’s Apogee Sessions
Hundreds of Ways *
We Are Nowhere
Lonely at the Top *
Artifact #1 *
Bowl of Oranges
Pretty Good (John Prine)
Another Travelin Song
* Songs from the new album “Upside Down Mountain”
ALL PHOTOS BY JEREMIAH GARCIA