They stampeded through like buffalo to a water trough: dark clothed, long haired, fist-pumping punks. They muscled past me, almost angry that people lie between them and Omaha's Desaparecidos, a rougher, heavier rock take on Conor Oberst's many projects. They couldn't help it, seemingly, sense bereft, hungry after a somehow satisfying (though just blaring and loud) opening by California's Joyce Manor. Hard to make tattoos out in this crowd, though you can surely smell the ink in their sweat. Oberst and his heavy-haired crew sampled out the NRA-obsessed Ted Nugent, a Micke Mouse political caricature, anti-Obama slogans, and dosed out anti-consumerism to the writhing pack of hungry rockers. And lo, it was pounding, and it was good.
Desaparecidos started on their new single, "The Left is Right," and did not relent. There were moshers - and yes, the lackluster Joyce Manor had moshers - but these were crazed, fixated moshers. A man took to the skies and surfed the crowd deliriously - of course against house rules. But house rules were rules and rules were to be broken that night, with not stopping the surge of youthful life. What we'd always thought the weaker of his offerings became prime live material for Oberst, it became sterling, an anthem against modern forms of oppression: political radicalism, homogeneity, consumer goods. And it was glorious in its head-banging way, unlike Bright Eyes or the Mystic River Valley band, harder and more sure and more desperate. More of a need to rock out, to shout out somewhere. There is little wonder why the venue sold out so far in advance, and we strongly suggest picking up the last tickets available in New York, if you're that way. Rocking, raging, and an excellent blast of kinetic energy.