Tremendous folk rocker, Conor Oberst, treated the Royal Oak Music Threatre to a night of great music this past Wednesday night.
Oberst’s career has taken him from the calendar pinings of love, to spiritual Cassadaga awakenings with Bright Eyes, punk rock vibes of Desaparecidos, and Roosevelt rooms of the Mystic Valley Band…
Through the inevitable change of artistry, and the lifetime journey that everyone must face, one undeniable thing has remained the same – Conor’s ability to write exceptional songs.
With Oberst’s most recent releases of “Ruminations” and “Salutations“, both within a 5 month span of time, this music is open, honest, and sharp as ever.
On this last day of May, Saddle Creek band Big Thief opened the show.
Big Thief released their debut LP last year entitled “Masterpiece”, that was nothing short of the gem that its name would imply.
With a soft, yet powerful presence, Big Thief presented tracks both old, and new.
Wednesday was Big Thief’s first show joining Oberst on tour.
A few songs in, guitarist and vocalist Adrianne Lenker told the crowd, “My voice is a little raw. We just flew in from a folk festival in Texas. I sang and mostly talked way too much”. The audience applauded and cheered her on, someone even yelled that they couldn’t even tell.
“Thank you. We’re so grateful to be opening for Conor Oberst.”
The band announced to the crowd that their next album, “Capacity“, will be out on June 9th.
After an impactful set, full of emotion, Big Thief thanked the crowd and exited with a wave.
To a barrage of excited cheers, Conor Oberst took to the stage with his acoustic guitar and a new track in tow.
The songwriter began the night with “Afterthought”, off of his newest LP, “Salutations”.
To the great delight of the crowd, second up was a Bright Eyes cover of “Four Winds”.
This would be first of the many songs that spanned several projects.
Oberst made sure to keep an open, honest, and playful dialogue with the audience.
At one point he asked, “Do you have a college here?” With mostly silence in response he joked, “I’m an elitist. That makes me an elitist to talk about higher education… I dropped out after 3 semesters, University of Nebraska Omaha, to pursue being a folk singer”. He continued, reflecting that the crowd is witnessing the results.
He then asked if there were any architectural majors in the audience, to which one fellow raised his hand.
“Are you serious? Are you fucking serious? I can tell when people are lying. It’s a talent of mine… This one’s for you.” He started into Rumination’s “Mamah Borthwick”, an appropriate metaphor about transition, and building something sacred til the end.
Oberst’s musicality was on full display. Adding extra strums to certain jams, he bounded around the stage, and even joined face to face with a talented violinist and a fellow guitarist to rock out. He swapped instruments between an electric and acoustic guitar, as well as a graceful seat at the piano. Almost always, with a soulful harmonica around his neck.
During “Cape Canaveral”, he kept a thumping time with a steady tap tap tap on his acoustic guitar.
Further on in the set, a member of the audience shouted something indistinguishable, to which Conor replied, “Did you say go Big Red? That’s my favorite gum… Do you guys like consuming alcohol?” The crowd cheered an elated cheer, infinite decibels higher than anything regarding architecture. “There we go, that’s a crowd pleaser. That’s fun. Nothing to be proud of, nothing to be ashamed of.”
Oberst also included a track from his collaboration with fellow Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis, and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James … a Monsters Of Folk song entitled “Map Of The World”.
Late in the set, Oberst started into Bright Eyes’ “Poison Oak” (for a girl with a yellow bird tattoo, this was nothing short of spectacular to witness). It seemed just about everyone was singing along to each word.
After the track, “A Little Uncanny”, Conor and his band exited the stage.
The crowd roared and cheered until Conor appeared again, to sit at his piano.
He thanked the audience and started into a beautiful unknown song that fetched positive reaction from the crowd, honestly reflecting on lack of change, and not doing what is wanted.
Conor thanked the crowd again and exclaimed, “I’d like to bring my beautiful band back to the stage!” He made sure to introduce each and every member lovingly.
The band began into Bright Eyes’ “Train Under Water”.
After the song’s conclusion, Conor addressed the crowd with, “One more time for Big Thief!” After grateful applause, “One more time for these boys! … One more time for yourselves for being so nice to us. We appreciate it”.
Conor closed out the night with “Napalm”, from his latest LP release.
Conor Oberst will be touring on through much of the US, before heading overseas to continue what are sure to be extraordinary shows in Europe, before heading back to the states in September.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell
This past Saturday, Run The Jewels took to the stage as champions of killing mikes, of (literally) golden albums, and on February 18th, champions of the sold out Royal Oak Music Theatre.
The rappers were ready on the right to go hard, and take no prisoners.
First to the stage was talented beat master, Nick Hook. The New York resident’s full length debut LP, “Relationships” is available now via Fools Gold.
The DJ threw down creative tracks, and made sure to include the audience. With tremendous energy he stated, “I am the opener, so let’s get this open!”
He sampled and shouted out to Danny Brown, as well as showing some Detroit love.
“Shout out to P-Funk and Motown. This town will never die. I’ve seen it reborn from nothing.”
He stuck on the stage for the following artists, and at one point, played Zack de la Rocha’s tremendous new single, “Digging For Windows”.
Next up was the poetic Cuz Lightyear. Cuz is certainly no stranger to the Royal Oak Music Theatre, having been the first opener for Run The Jewels when they made a tour stop here back in October of 2015.
Even without the impactful mask her wore last time, Cuz was equally as tremendous.
The wordsmith encouraged the crowd, “Say what up Cuz?”, and the audience would echo back.
Cuz included second to none acapella freestyles, as well as tracks from his latest LP.
Third to the stage was Gangsta Boo, also no stranger to the Run The Jewels family. She was featured on the fun track “Love Again” off of Run The Jewels second album.
She started off the night with her honest track, “Hard Not 2 Kill.” Next was her marijuana friendly jam, “Loc’d Out Smoked Out”. She told the crowd, “I just made a video for that in LA in a weed house”.
Next, Gangsta Boo presented her collaboration with Yelawolf and Eminem, “Throw It Up”.
After the songs completion, Gangsta Boo shouted out to Eminem and said, “What if Eminem would’ve came out here? Y’all would’ve fainted!”
The powerful gal continued on with a frank, powerful, and superb set.
The final opener was the spirited Gaslamp Killer, who created a vibe and flow entirely his own. The DJ is touring in support of his latest album, “Instrumentalepathy”. Gaslamp Killer pulled in musical influences from all over the map to jive and dance behind his turntables. GLK danced wonderfully and wildly to his mixes, machine gun motioning to the beat into the crowd. When he sampled Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, it seemed that the entire audience sang along to every word.
Before RTJ’s set, hydration hero Nick Hook returned to the stage to toss bottles of water to thirsty audience members. Security guards soon followed suit.
The restless crowd was ready for Run The Jewels to appear, starting to chant out “R-T-J” right around 10 PM.
Emerging to a wave of applause with their typical Queen legend entrance anthem playing, the air was thick and right with RTJ’s favorite smokable.
The duo started off the night with their lead single off of their new album, “Talk To Me” from Run The Jewels 3.
EL-P shouted out, “HOW YOU DOING, CHICAGO?”, which was the night’s previous stop. The audience was silent as Killer Mike corrected him. EL-P joking said, “Have you ever gotten so high you can’t remember what city you’re in?” The talented rapper rectified himself with an even bigger shout to Detroit. Soon after, EL accepted a joint from an audience member.
The MCs churned out powerful tracks from their latest album, as well as a few from their last acclaimed record, “Run The Jewels 2”. The pair also included their catchy collaboration with DJ Shadow (with an equally entertaining video), “Nobody Speak”.
Around mid-set EL-P stopped and proclaimed, “After this next song, I am leaving Run The Jewels to pursue a poetry career”. He then started into the intro for “Panther Like A Panther”, snapping his fingers in applause with the crowd after its conclusion.
“I’ll flood the speakers with heat seakers and keep sneakers cleaner…”
Killer Mike exclaimed, “Give him more of a hand than that! He is brave. He is beautiful.” The pair continued the song acapella until DJ Trackstar kicked in the beat after the first verse.
Run The Jewels made sure to include some love for the ladies. Killer Mike turned to the crowd, “When I say pussy, you say power!”
Gangsta Boo then joined the stage for the fun loving “Love Again”.
Continuously commenting on the incredible energy from the crowd, Run The Jewels made it known how grateful they were for the turn out. “I don’t know what we did to deserve you, Detroit, but we’re so happy to be here.”
Before “Lie Cheat Steal” from the pair’s 2014 album, the duo remarked that they only hear 5 words coming out of these politicians mouths. EL-P reflected, “We’re all a community. We believe the same fucking thing. You are born free.”
Run The Jewels closed out the night with an encore of “Close Your Eyes”, as well as the uplifting reflective track “Down”.
“I coulda died, y’all
A couple times, I took my eyes off the prize, y’all
I know a couple people pray for my demise, y’all
But even birds with broken wings want to fly, y’all.”
With continuously sold out shows, endless buzz, and music that’s somehow getting better and better, Run The Jewels are sure to keep running the world on this Run The World Tour.
RTJs are next headed to Canada, then back to the US for a string of dates before heading overseas.
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell