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Conor Oberst gets Mystic at Coachella

April 18, 2009 |  2:55 am

Obert Conor Oberst leaped on a guitar amplifier perched three feet above the stage on the drum platform, and started teetering precariously as he and his latest outfit, the Mystic Valley Band, wrapped up their  performance at Coachella's Outdoor Stage as the sun sank behind the nearby mountains.

Oberst often seems to be in jeopardy of taking a spill in balancing all the directions his muse leads him, but he didn't tumble this time, literally or figuratively. 

The closing number during which he made the leap was the fiery "Russian Room," his acerbic us-vs-them jab at well-heeled politicos who can't truly understand the struggles of the working class.

The five-piece Mystic Valley Band, whose new album “Outer South” is due May 5, lets the Bright Eyes front man head deep into heartland Americana, chiefly following the blueprint set down by Bob Dylan and the Band, with a nit of Stonesy R&B swagger in for spice.

It’s a more obvious and well-trod musical path than most of what he’s done with Bright Eyes, but he seemed truly energized employing the classic-rock vocabulary.

From under his outsized black gaucho hat, Oberst told the crowd with utter sincerity, "It's really kind of you to listen to us." Spoken like a true son of the prairie.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of Conor Oberst by Steve C. Mitchell / EPA