Who knew crowd surfing was in the range of possibilities for a Wednesday night? Eager Desaparecidos fans, who at the moment they laid eyes on Conor Oberst and the band, rushed towards the stage and erupted in a roar of energy. This was the scene at the Regency Ballroom last Wednesday night as Desaparecidos paid San Francisco a visit on their reunion tour.
The ever so political-emo-punk Desaparecidos campaigned their case with all songs off their only album, Read Music/Speak Spanish (2002), and mixed in a few new singles. They kicked off the show with “Greater Omaha” and immediately had the crowd going nuts with its familiar uplifting guitar melody. But, for me, that’s where the enticement ended. Sure, they made all the rocking head banging moves and pushed the distortion pedals just right but what was lacking was a personal connection to the crowd. Conor Oberst didn’t sound like Conor Oberst and didn’t much look like Conor Oberst. His voice was more generic and monotone than the emotional-shouty-melodramatic sound that sets him apart from others. At a glance, he was completely unrecognizable and deadpan. In fact, I couldn’t pick most of the band members out of a lineup since hair hung over their blank faces for a majority of the show.
My vote goes to the audience–the real performers of the night. The loyal fans welcoming back Desaparecidos from their near ten-year hiatus like anxious puppies. For the entirety of Desaparecidos 14 song set there was a raging mosh pit that only got progressively wilder. Fans sung and shouted lyrics as they raised their hands and passed around the crowd surfers. Desaparecidos couldn’t have hoped for a warmer welcome back.
1. Greater Omaha
2. Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)
3. The Happiest Place on Earth
4. Mall of America
5. Backsell this Song
6. The Left is Right
7. Survival of the Fittest/ It’s a Jungle Out There
10. Man and Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)
13. Spanish Bombs
14. Hole in One