When offered the chance to see a band you love play in front of 300 people in a small auditorium, the answer is always yes. So was the case on March 18th 2011 when the band Bright Eyes played the Austin Club at SXSW. The secret Pop Up show was the talk of the town and I was in.
The crowd was stirring with anticipation as the doors opened. All the fans of Bright Eyes wanted was to see the band, running past the free drinks to get a good spot, now that’s dedication. As the crowd filled in, the lights dimmed and a hooded Conor Oberst took the stage. You could feel an instant connection to the crowd as the first strums of “An Attempt to Tip the Scales” rang out through the crowded Austin Club. It was hard not to feel some kind of emotion hearing the song in this setting. I wasn’t alone in this feeling as I witnessed a female attendee wipe her misty eyes.
This would be the first time I had seen Bright Eyes live and I can’t imagine a better setting to pop my proverbial cherry. The charmingly lit ball room played beautifully to the sounds of Bright Eyes. It’s moments like this that give validation for a trip to SXSW.
When you catch a band in a moment like this you can almost reach out and feel the music. Songs like “Take it Easy” just sound different and gain a different meaning. Your heart starts to race and you can’t help but smile watching the song build to it’s familiar conclusion. At times like this its the atmosphere that becomes the story, the band becomes an after note, a soundtrack to a perfect moment.
This was not to say that Bright Eyes wasn’t bringing their all. The band was on tonight, and eager to come as close to perfection as possible. You could just tell by the shocked faces in the crowd that they were coming close. It was as if the reality of what was going on had not kicked in yet. Everyone was just trying to absorb as much of this moment as possible waiting for the next break of silence to scream.
This moment of shock would prove to be short lived as the band ripped into “The Calender Hung Itself” the feeling to move had just become too much and the time to dance was here. The beat of the combined drums moved the crowd to its will. The helpless crowd was ripping and grabbing at every last second as they felt the end nearing. No one wanted the moment to be over.
Sadly that moment was here and it was set to the tune of the “Road to Joy”. The ring of the trumpet and the barrage of guitar played beautifully off the excited crowd. They could feel that this was the end and it was time to go off on a high note. As Conor screamed, “Let’s fuck it up kids, make some noise,” the crowd couldn’t help but oblige and like that the moment was over. The band had left the stage and all we were left with was a memory.
If you missed the show, or want to relive the moment, you can see the entire performance in the video below.
by Ryan Davis