Thursday, August 6, 2015

Desaparecidos at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Conor Oberst
Vocalist/guitarist Conor Oberst formed the band Desaparecidos in 2001 in Omaha, Nebraska, but put the emo band on hiatus after one album as his other band, the indie folk band Bright Eyes, began to gain popularity. Charged with a political bent, the band took its name from the Spanish word "desaparecidos." which means "disappeared ones"; it is a reference to the political dissidents who mysteriously disappeared under Latin American dictatorships, particularly Augusto Pinochet’s right-wing dictatorship in Chile from 1973-1990. With Bright Eyes on hold, Desaparecidos reunited for a single show in 2010, and in 2012 embarked on its first tour since 2002. Desaparecidos released its second album, Payola, on June 23, 2015, 13 years after the debut Read Music/Speak Spanish. The band consists of original members Oberst, guitarist Denver Dalley, keyboardist Ian McElroy, bassist Landon Hedges and drummer Matt Baum.

Oberst recently concluded a solo tour promoting a solo album, but the singer is now committed to Desaparecidos. At Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom tonight, Desaparecidos performed 11 of the 14 songs from its new album, six of the nine songs from the debut album, and a cover of the Clash's "Spanish Bombs." If anyone came to see the folkie side of Oberst, that person was in for a surprise. This band rocked an intense wall of sound, many of the songs fit for crowd surfers and stage divers. Often the musicians' faces were covered with hair as they bounced to the hard and heavy rhythms. Rooted in loud tuneful punk, the melodies rode on escalating, anthemic cascades and were given drama by Oberst's angst-filled vocals. The thrust of the adrenalin-driven music felt like it was caught in a tornado. If anything, this was the fault of the set; there was little if any nuance in the mix. Many songs also took on a socio-political defiance, such as the anti-corporate, anti-CEO "Golden Parachutes" and the anti-racism "MariKKopa," adding to the vibrant urgency of the music. For the encores, Desaparecidos brought out their opening acts: the So So Glos on "Slacktivist" and the Band Droidz on "Spanish Bombs." The evening ended with the pro-worker "Mañana" and the anti-establishment "Greater Omaha." Rather than Bright Eyes, this was more like Angry Eyes.

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