with The Felice Brothers
with The Felice Brothers
|Price:||$40 GA / $55 Reserved|
Genre: Indie Rock
ALL AGES: 18+ with valid photo ID. Under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Reserved seating is available for $55 and guarantees a seat in the reserved section. If necessary groups will be paired together at tables. Seating is based on time of purchase and the configuration of groups.
Conor Oberst has partnered with Plus1 so that $1 from every ticket sold will go to support Planned Parenthood and their work delivering vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people in the US and worldwide.
Conor Oberst joined his first band at the age of 13 and has been releasing music since 1993. Over the next two plus decades, he’s released cassette-only recordings, split 7-inches, and a dozen albums of uncommon insight, detail, and political awareness with his band Bright Eyes, under his own name, as a member of Desaparecidos, as leader of the The Mystic Valley Band, and with the Monsters of Folk supergroup.
In Fall of 2015, and after more than a decade of living in New York City, Oberst returned to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, somewhat unexpectedly. Like John Lennon so famously said: “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” After canceling a tour with Desaparecidos due to serious health issues, Oberst returned home to recuperate. The musician was unexpectedly back home at loose ends and faced with some long, cold, claustrophobic winter nights, with nothing really to do. Such conditions were the same as those that contributed to the very early songs he penned in his boyhood bedroom. This resulted in the anxious poetry, heightened self-awareness, and revealing confessionals that catalogued his doubts, demons, and nightmares.
“It wasn’t premeditated at all. I don’t know if you know what Omaha is like in the winter, but it’s just paralyzing. You’re stranded in the house. Every night I was staying up late, making a point to play the new piano I had just bought and watching the snow fall outside the house. Everybody would be asleep and I would just go into this one room, make a fire, and play all night. In November I had a whole pick-up truck full of firewood delivered and I thought, ‘I’m never going to run out of it.’ Before I knew I had gone through half of the firewood and I had five songs. By February I had burned through it all, and I had 15 songs. I had just spent the whole winter making fires and playing music.”
Making and playing music has always been a healing balm for the sometimes troubled musician. And this time it especially seemed important. It was if he was writing himself back to sanity. Back to understanding what is really important and has meaning for him. And in the same kind of immediacy with which the songs were written, Oberst realized he needed to record them right away, in order to capture the kind of raw intensity and rough magic behind them. When Oberst wrote and recorded the songs, with just voice, piano, guitar and harmonica – he intended to ultimately record them with a full band. In the midst of putting together that band - upstate New York's The Felice Brothers plus the legendary drummer Jim Keltner (Neil Young, Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and many more) - the passionate responses Oberst was getting to those first solo recordings, from friends and colleagues, encouraged him to release the songs as-is, in their original sparse form, released in October 2016 as Ruminations. Pitchfork called it “a record like none other in Oberst’s catalog, stunning for how utterly alone he sounds,” and the UK’s Sunday Times called it, “The rawest album yet from the forever troubled one-time voice of a generation. Political and very, very personal,” saying Oberst is “one of the best songwriters around.”
Meanwhile, Oberst simultaneously moved ahead with his plans to record with the band, heading to the famed Shangri-la Studios in Malibu to record Salutations - co-produced with Keltner and engineered by long-time musical compadre Andy LeMaster. Guest contributions come courtesy of Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M Ward, Gillian Welch, Gus Seyffert, Pearl Charles, Nathaniel Walcott, and Jonathan Wilson.
Salutations includes full band versions of the ten songs from Ruminations, plus seven additional songs, some from an additional session at Five Star Studios in Echo Park in fall 2016. Oberst says of the Salutations sessions: "Jim (Keltner) was really the captain of the ship and the spiritual leader of the project. We leaned heavy on his fifty-plus years of musical insight to get us to where we needed to be. He brought such depth and dignity to the proceedings that made everyone else involved rise to the occasion. It was a true stroke of luck that he got involved when he did.”
The Felice Brothers’ new album Life in the Dark, out now on Yep Roc, is classic American music. At once plainspoken and deeply literate, the band’ s latest features nine new songs that capture the hopes and fears, the yearning and resignation, of a rootless, restless nation at a time of change. Life in the Dark also coincides with The Felice Brothers’ 10th anniversary as a band. Hailed by the AV Club for a sound at once “ timeless, yet tossed-off,” they’ve released plenty of music over the past decade, often on their own without a record label, but the new album is the fullest realization yet of the band’ s DIY tendencies. Self-produced by the musicians and engineered by James Felice (who also contributed accordion, keyboards and vocals), the Felice Brothers made Life in the Dark themselves in a garage on a farm in upstate New York, observed only by audience of poultry.
“The recording is definitely rough around the edges and cheap,” James Felice says, laughing. “ It was liberating and really cool to do. It allowed us to untether ourselves from anything and just make music.” Because of makeshift studio set-up, the music they made was necessarily stripped down, emphasizing acoustic instruments and spacious arrangements on songs that showcase the sound of a band playing together live, with echoes in the music of Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine and rural blues. “ We tried to make it as simple and folk-based as possible, because we were working with limited resources,” singer and guitarist Ian Felice says.
“ We wanted to take all the frills out and make it just meat and potatoes.” Still, there are hints of seasoning: among the folk and blues touchstones, the band took a certain inspiration from Neil Young and the Meat Puppets, too. Ian Felice says he was trying to channel the spirit of Meat Puppets II on opener “ Aerosol Ball” —“ They played kind of weird, freaky folk music, so there’ s a connection there,” he says — while James Felice says listening to Neil Young’ s Tonight’s the Night was like getting permission to make Life in the Dark. “ If you listen to that record, it’ s fucking crazy,” he says. “ We listened to that to know that what we were doing was legal and had precedent.
If Neil Young could make a record that sounds like that, we can make a record that sounds like this.” He’ s referring to the wild, whirling accordion and big, loose rhythm on “ Aerosol Ball,” mournful glimmers of electric guitar and fiddle on “ Triumph ’ 73” and the ramshackle, blues-rock feel of “ Plunder,” full of grainy lead guitars, blasts of organ and a shout-along chorus inspired by the rhythm of Shakespeare’ s “ Double, double toil and trouble” incantation in Macbeth. Though The Felice Brothers often share songwriting duties, the band gravitated toward Ian Felice’ s songs for Life in the Dark.
Along with Shakespeare and the Meat Puppets, Ian Felice absorbed the essence of writers from Anne Sexton to Anne Frank, Raymond Carver to Dr. Seuss, on tunes with clear, if unintentional, political undertones. “ It’ s just what was going on when I was writing the songs,” Ian Felice says. “
It’ s a pretty politically charged climate right now.” To say the least. The singer’ s characters on “ Aerosol Ball” exist in a dystopian culture bought, and ruled, by corporations; while “ Jack at the Asylum” catalogs cultural ills including climate change, economic inequality and the numbing aspects of televised warfare, themes that recur again on “ Plunder.” He wrote the title track after re-reading The Diary of a Young Girl, the journal that Frank kept while in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. “ The idea of living in a dark attic unable to fully grasp what is going on in your life and feeling powerless to change it seemed like a relevant metaphor for me at the time,” Ian Felice says.
Elsewhere, he offers his own interpretation of classic American archetypes: “ Triumph ’ 73” follows a young man on the cusp of adulthood desperate to ride his motorcycle away from the life changes overtaking him, while the ballad “ Diamond Bell” tells the story of a folk heroine gunslinger in the vein of Pretty Boy Floyd or Jesse James, and the hapless, lovestruck kid she ensnares. “ It’ s part-love song, part-adventure story, part-tragedy, told in the Mexican folk tradition of singing about bandits,” Ian Felice says. “ I think it’ s one of the most straight-ahead narratives I’ ve written.”
The band, also including Josh Rawson on bass and Greg Farley on fiddle, with drums by David Estabrook, spent about a month recording Life in the Dark in the late winter of 2015. James Felice learned engineering on the fly —“ I literally had a book, like, ‘ Where do you put the mic? How do you mic the kick drum?’” he says — and the band managed to nail most of the tunes within a few takes. “
There wasn’ t too much agonizing, just the joy of playing music,” James Felice says. “ We had an audience of chickens, and an audience of each other, and we were just really enjoying making it.” The resulting album is more than just classic American music —it’ s a parable for modern America.