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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Overcast
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Beyond Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst sheds his famous moniker for a solo tour
Oberst suits up for the road.
Oberst suits up for the road.

For a long time, Conor Oberst was synonymous with Bright Eyes, the manic folk project he often helmed alone. Only his birth name will appear on the bill when he comes to the Overture Center's Capitol Theater Sept. 23. At this show, he'll likely perform songs from his latest Conor Oberst releases: 2008's self-titled LP and Gentleman's Pact EP, and Outer South, his 2009 release with the Mystic Valley Band.

But what else from his vast catalogue will make it into the set? It would be odd for him to ignore his Bright Eyes songs, which have fueled his critical and popular success. He's revived his long-dormant post-hardcore band Desaparecidos, so its material should be fair game. Same goes for several other past projects.

To prepare for some Oberst oldies, let's bone up on his discography.


Oberst just finished a short tour with Desaparecidos. Its focus was MeriKKKopa/Backsell, the group's first recording in 10 years. In other words, songs from this seven-inch and the 2002 LP Read Music/Speak Spanish should be fresh in Oberst's mind. But the crew joining Oberst's latest tour won't be set up to thrash as hard as these guys.

Monsters of Folk

Dubbed "our era's Traveling Wilburys" by Pitchfork, this group truly earned the hype for their 2009 self-titled album, which unites M. Ward and My Morning Jacket's Jim James with Mike Mogis, Saddle Creek Records' super-producer. Some of their songs would fit nicely in an Oberst-centric set - particularly the somber "Temazcal" - but attempting them without the entire dream team would be pretty crazy.

Commander Venus

Calling on Commander Venus, the punk band Oberst started with Cursive's Tim Kasher and the Faint's Todd Fink, would be a long shot. The group hasn't released anything since 1997's The Uneventful Vacation. Still, it would be interesting to hear Oberst update mopers such as "Life as Expected."

But there's no need to dwell on the past for too long. Oberst has moved on, and this show is a great chance to see how far his career has come.

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