Better Oblivion Community Center Concert Review

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By Madisen Gummer
Music Journalist

Tuesday, April 9, indie-folk music fans from all over the Austin area packed into Stubb’s Amphitheater for the feel-good show they needed to get through the rest of the week. Christian Lee Hutson gently captivated everyone with his acoustic set and interludes of dry comedic anecdotes. His latest single “Northsiders,” which was produced by one of the members of the headlining band, Phoebe Bridgers, was a crowd favorite. He joined the second openers and Better Oblivion Community Center on stage to further showcase his musical genius.

Lala Lala plays guitar and sings while Christian Lee Hutson holds a microphone an sings.
Lala Lala and Christian Lee Hutson. Image by Madisen Gummer. 

The second openers, Lala Lala, were a vivid whirlwind of pink hair, tattoos, electric guitars, loop pedals and synths. Their innovative alternative sound provided a nice contrast to the ethereal energy of the first opener. They are easily one of my new favorites and definitely one to watch out for. Songs that prove their artistry and authority include “Lala Song,” “Destroyer” and “Fuck With Your Friends.”

Phoebe Bridgers plays guitar and sings while Conor Oberst sings, red and white lights in the background.
Dimmed lights for Better Oblivion Community Center’s slow songs. Image by Madisen Gummer. 

Better Oblivion Community Center, the avant-garde musical project of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, opened their multidimensional set with “My City” and continued into a moving and explosion rendition of “Big Black Heart.” Their combined voices created such a raw and dynamic resonance that kept the crowd’s attention as the lights dimmed through their drowsier songs like “Chesapeake” and “Service Road,” and their sunnier songs like “Dylan Thomas,” which were accompanied by experimental lighting and lasers.

Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst sit in lawn chairs singing.
Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst relax in lawn chairs mid-show. Image by Madisen Gummer. 

The odd pairing of a late-90s indie rocker and a folk-rock petite powerhouse hung up their electric guitars, and sat on lawn chairs in the middle of the stage to perform “Exception to the Rule” as beach balls bounced around the crowd. The pinnacle of their show was their buoyantly tough version of Bridgers’ originally melancholy song “Funeral.” Other noteworthy moments include their covers of “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements and “Devil Town” by Daniel Johnston.

Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst play guitar while facing each other, yellow and purple lights in the background.
Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s guitar battle. Image by Madisen Gummer. 

They responded to the audience’s cry for an encore by covering each others’ songs. Bridgers took on Oberst’s other band Bright Eyes’ songs “Lua” and “Easy/Lucky/Free,” while Oberst carried out one of Bridgers’ most popular songs, “Scott Street.” This gave a nice spin on fan favorites, and created a unique moment you can’t get outside of this tour. To steady out their fluctuating energy, they performed “Dominoes,” which was a sweet lullaby to softly end the adventurous night.

Featured image by Madisen Gummer. 

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