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Better Oblivion Community Center Inspires at Stubbs





Better Oblivion Community Center Inspires at Stubbs

 Allow me to bring BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER to your attention; the folk rock duo and pals, Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. You might be familiar with Conor and his instrumental voice from his other projects; Bright Eyes, Mystic Valley River Band, Desaparecidos, Commander Venus to name a few over the years. Phoebe is relatively new on the scene, although after hearing her vulnerability shine through her music, you might think you’ve known her forever.  (A quick taste of the duo in a Billboard interview.)

On their own, both artists tote songs that could be considered “emo,” but together they create a melodic melange of satire and playful angst. If you’ve been following Conor through his musical career, you may glimpse a new side of him in this project. (Isn’t that what we love about evolving artists?) Phoebe’s youth, realness, and humility elicits a child-like joy out of Conor, and he uses every opportunity to be her biggest hype man. You can see the fun they’re having on stage, and you can hear in their lyrics (listen to: Forest Lawn @ 1:03). Both artists are equally regarded for their honest and thoughtful lyricism. Instead of inward reflection and dwelling on heavy emotions, together they’re looking out at their community and its members. Service Road paints an endearing picture of a difficult relationship with a brother figure, and likewise My City feels like it was written for Austin, but could likely be imposed on a number of big cities that feel like small towns. 

 

When BOCC stopped through Austin and Santa Fe, their roster included Lala Lala and Christian Lee Hutson. Both openers have relations with the founding members of BOCC outside of the initial community start-up. Phoebe gave Lillie West, lead singer of Lala Lala, a shout-out during her set: “Lillie told the kids in highschool to stop making fun of me. Give her another hand!” The whole ensemble rocked it. Christian Lee Hutson opened the whole show with an acoustic guitar, and subsequently appeared in all three sets playing keys and electric guitar. He’s composed and talented and humble. He plays an original song, Northsiders, with a sweet voice and provoking story-telling lyrics. The Better Oblivion Community core family co-created a cohesive show of camaraderie, good cheer, and thoughtful tunes with a touch of soft goth.

 

“Play Sleepwalking!,” hollers an audience member.

“We only have one album, so we’re definitely playing all of the songs. Sorry to spoil that for you,” Phoebe sardonically smiles back.

 

They played Sleepwalkin’, and it was great. It features fantastic bass riffs and intoxicating vocals, and asks a question I think could be assigned to my generation: “Is this having fun?

 

Conor and Phoebe took turns covering each others’ classic songs. Conor sang “Funeral,” but made it punk rock. Seriously, give this song 5 minutes of your undivided attention and feel it deeply. Then, imagine it fast-jump-up-and-down-punk-rock-amaze. When Phoebe sang his “Lua,” at the Austin show the whole crowd echoed her. (I cried…I actually cried thrice from the beginning to the end of the whole show.) The Community these two artist built was tangible and so inclusive in that moment.

 

Being vulnerable can be incredibly challenging. Artists like Phoebe and Conor make it look easy, but when you listen closely to their words and sentiments you can gather that they’ve been through some shit - like everyone else. We’re not alone. There’s a Better Oblivion Community Center that’s open and operating. Call today: +1 (785) 433 5534

 

-Mel Green

This Emerging Artist is based in Philadelphia,
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