It seems as though Philadelphians will take Conor Oberst any way they can get him.
After playing a stripped down and intimate solo show at the Kimmel Center in November, the singer-songwriter and Bright Eyes frontman returned to Philly Saturday to play quite a different batch of his material – that of his incredibly loud, politically fueled and recently reunited hardcore band Desaparecidos.
The sold-out show started with a short 25-minute set from revered California punks Joyce Manor. The crowd surfing started right away as the band blasted through several songs from their three LPs, including “Leather Jacket” and “Constant Headache.”
The young punk band’s music went over well with the crowd, despite the fact that most were there to witness the mature, but still face-melting rock that Desaparecidos were sure to bring live. Oberst certainly looked different fronting this band — thrashing his electric as his asymmetrical haircut flew around his face, glistening with sweat — than he did in a suit, hair combed back, strumming his acoustic while perched on a stool on the stage of the Kimmel Center. “It’s nice to be playing your new rock and roll temple,” Oberst said of the new-to-him Union Transfer.
Though they delivered hits like “Greater Omaha” and “Manana,” the Desaparecidos stage show wasn’t all about the music. A table of promotional material in the lobby supporting army soldier Bradley Manning, who was jailed while serving in Baghdad for passing along classified information on WikiLeaks, was coupled with a lengthy speech from Oberst, who described Manning as a “very brave American citizen.”
“Be a part of the solution,” he urged the crowd. “If you want to live in a free society, I suggest you get involved before there is nothing left.”
The band’s encore included a cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs,” and Oberst said he hoped they’d be back to play this “beautiful new rock club” soon. Despite a short one-hour set from the reunited band with a small discography, Desparecidos fans seemed to enjoy the chance to rock out like it was 2002.
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