Bright Eyes/Titus Andronicus; April 3, 2011; The Riverside Theater, Milwaukee
Admittedly, it seemed a little silly for me to be going to this show. After all, I had just seen Conor Oberst and band play a terrific show two and a half weeks earlier in Chicago the night before I headed to Austin for SXSW. But honestly, it was because of that show that I wanted to see tonight’s show. It occurred to me that going to a show might be the last thing I wanted to do after being on tour a week, but I ignored that thought, and was I ever glad I did.
The set list was essentially the same, perhaps even identical, but the energy was ten-fold. It could have been the difference in the openers, instead of the dreamy Mynabirds we had seen in Chicago, we got the manic rock of Titus Andronicus. I’d seen them a couple times before, and didn’t really understand what the attraction was. Tonight was an improvement, lead singer Patrick Stickles’ flailings seemed sincere instead of act and the songs flat out seemed better than before. I did get tired of guitarist Amy Klein who would not stop jumping up and down no matter what the song, but the nerdily handsome bass player proved a sufficient distraction. Also the fact that Stickles looks almost exactly like my cousin Johnny is inescapable. Watching the band it was easy to pretend that Johnny had made the big time.
It’s obvious that Oberst is a fan. When thanking them during his set, he admitted that he was “totally stoked” to have them joining him on tour. In fact, Oberst talked a lot more than he did last time, and it had everything to do with the fact that he was in Wisconsin. He got very worked up about the state of workers’ rights and about Scott Walker in particular, saying that what he was doing was equivalent to slavery, which led the young girl ahead of us to yell “slavery… boo!” Yep, really. He also encouraged us to go egg the governor’s house. Hmm, maybe all these protestors have been going about it all wrong, all they needed was a couple dozen eggs and maybe that bill never would have been passed. Throughout the show anyone attempting to get on stage to dance or grab a quick hug of Oberst had been calmly escorted back off. During the encore security let them stay and a flood of people enveloped the band. The tiny Oberst had disappeared from sight, and I worried he might get crushed until he stood up on the drum stool, arms up in victory. Another great show, I’d call that a victory.