Desaparecidos with Little Brazil @ 400 Bar
August 9th, 2012
Over the past decade and a half, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame went from a young kid playing music in Omaha cafes, to a relatively well known singer/songwriter, to the poster child of an entire subculture, to an artist who continuously sells out large capacity theaters and venues. He has always played as Bright Eyes, but diehard fans know Oberst has a wider musical background, playing with bands such as Commander Venus, Park Avenue, and more recently, in 2001, Desaparecidos - a socially aware rock band with heavy punk influences. On Thursday, August 9, the Twin Cities were honored as the first stop of the latter's five date reunion tour.
Little Brazil, headed by Desaparecidos' bassist Landon Hedges, opened The 400 Bar, a venue with just a 275 person capacity. Little Brazil's music is a little more low key than Desaparecidos, though still influenced greatly by that forgotten Midwestern emo sound, somewhere between Rites of Spring and The Promise Ring. Hedges, with the rest of Little Brazil, opened the show nicely - playing with full energy, and creating an unnamable anticipation of what was to come.
Desaparecidos came out fashionably late, and while you still hear a few remarks such as, "Marry me, Conor!" from the crowd, unlike most Bright Eyes shows, reflected in the positive cheering one might find at a basement punk show in town, the crowd was more interested in reliving the lost band's sound then longing after some lingering preteen lust towards Oberst. The band immediately tore into "Greater Omaha," the entire crowd acknowledging the catchy opening guitar riffs, and singing aloud through the first verse almost louder than Conor himself. "You can work for us / but you gotta eat 'em all up" is shouted, and the tempo picks up with the forefront of the crowd bouncing into one another with a passion I thought only possible at 80's hardcore shows.
The band played through their most of their catalogue without any in between banter. However, "Mall of America," a track about the Twin Cities' infamous cesspool of capitalism was mockingly introduced by Conor, "I was very impressed with the mall, until I saw the one in Edmonton." After telling the audience to get their shit together and build a real mall, the band ripped through "Mall of America," which likely due to the local context, the audience seemed to sing along with the loudest. Other than this short mention, however, Oberst only gave one left-wing political lesson condemning the foundation of the United States' rise to power via the genocide of Native America and the African slave trade, and of America's present day neo-imperialism, "We want to be a part of the world, not control it." Certainly words that represent the lyrical and musical content of Desaparecidos' work. After closing out with "Marikkkopa," a critique on Sherriff Joe's methods of immigration control, the band walked off for a short leave only to come back to an encore.
Desaparecidos closed up the night with a well-done cover of The Clash's "Spanish Bombs," however - the majority of the crowd seemed unaware to what the cover was (which seriously confused me). The set was wrapped up with "Hole in One." "Won't eat their food or wear their clothes / always wants to know where her money goes / But will shell it out for filling up her nose." As far as my opinion goes, this track's lyrics are the strongest of the bands work - and Desaparecidos certainly made this one ring in the venue.
The band playing at The 400 Bar was a perfect setting for this reunion show, and however unfortunate it was that they did not play a venue the size of First Ave's Mainroom to allow more fans in, those who were able to get tickets were treated to a room, a band, a crowd, and a sound thought to be dead in the late 90s. This concert is unforgettable. If ever you have the chance to see Desaparecidos, take it.
Man and Wife, the Former (Financial Planning)
The Happiest Place on Earth
Mall of America
Backsell This Song
The Left is Right
Survival of the Fittest/ It's a Jungle Out There
Man and Wife, the Latter (Damaged Goods)
Hole in One
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer