The year 2020 was full of significant anniversaries for Bright Eyes. Conner Oberst and company’s breakthrough record, ‘Fevers and Mirrors’ celebrated the two-decade mark, while ‘Digital Ash in a Digital Urn’ and ‘I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning’ both turned 15. The latter, a singer-songwriter tour-de-force released amidst the Bush presidency and Iraq war, wades through incisive anti-war rhetoric and micro, intimate calamities.
Fast forward to 2022, two more years can be tacked on to the milestones and the pandemic is…well, not over, but at least for now, the coast is clear for touring to resume. Bright Eyes are back on the road in support of their 2020 release, ‘Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was.’
The record marked the band’s first release in nearly a decade, following ‘The People’s Key’ in 2011. It was released by Dead Oceans on August 21, 2020.
The album features musical contributions from drummer Jon Theodore and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, who had previously recorded The Mars Volta’s 2003 debut studio record De-loused in the Comatorium together.
Down in the Weeds was preceded by four singles: “Persona Non Grata”, “Forced Convalescence”, “One and Done”, and “Mariana Trench”. The album received favorable reviews from critics and peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200.
In the time during the band’s nearly decade-long hiatus, the work of the band’s core members – Oberst, multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Walcott – has remained omnipresent, through both the members’ original work and collaboration.
In recent years, Mogis produced records for beloved folk acts First Aid Kit and Joseph, among others, as well as mixed the fine-spun ennui of Phoebe Bridgers’ breakthrough 2017 debut, ‘Stranger in the Alps.’
Mogis and bandmate Walcott also teamed up to write the original scores for The Fault in Our Stars, Stuck in Love, and Lovely Still, and Walcott worked as a solo composer scoring number of independent feature-length films. Walcott spent extensive time on collaboration; in addition to his arrangement work for Mavis Staples, First Aid Kit, and M. Ward, he contributed studio work to artists ranging from U2 to jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, and also traveled the world as a touring member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Oberst, who’s nearly 30 years into a prolific musical career, spent the last decade in similarly productive fashion. Across three years he released a string of solo albums: Salutations (2017), Ruminations (2016), and Upside Down Mountain (2014), as well as guested on records by First Aid Kit, Phoebe Bridgers, and Alt-J. His punk band, Desaparecidos, emerged from a 13-year hiatus in 2015 with the thunderous sophomore LP, Payola, a white-knuckled disarray of hollered political fury. And at the top of 2019, Oberst and Bridgers debuted their new band, Better Oblivion Community Center, digitally dropping the critically-lauded eponymous debut LP alongside a surprise performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
The heart at Bright Eyes’ songwriting still looms culturally, in films and TV shows and through re-imaginings by other artists. Mac Miller covered both “Lua” and “First Day of My Life”; Lorde’s version of the penultimate The People’s Key track, the funereal-waltz “Ladder Song,” was a focal point of The Hunger Games’ soundtrack; The Killers covered “Four Winds” for their Spaceman EP; and Lil Peep’s “Worlds Away” samples “Something Vague” while Young Thug’s “Me Or Us” samples “First Day of My Life.” Bright Eyes’ expansive catalog has traversed genre, sound, and countless players; unpolished demos or fuzzy folk, electrified rock or country twang. The sharp songwriting and musicianship is all anchored in Bright Eyes’ singular ability to flip deep intimacy into something universal. For so many, for so long, listening to Bright Eyes has been like hearing yourself in someone else’s song – a moment of understanding or illumination, knowing you’re on the same team looking for a way to move through of all this shit. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.
Reserved mezzanine seats are priced at $69.50. General admission tix are $39.50. All prices are subject to additional fees. Tix can be purchased in person at The Agora box office or online via the link below: