On Monday night, Bright Eyes delivered their first performance together in nearly a decade. The Conor Oberst-led group appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform their new song “Mariana Trench”.
The beloved indie outfit went on hiatus after 2011’s The People’s Key, with Oberst embarking on a solo career and eventually launching Better Oblivion Community Center with Phoebe Bridgers. Now, Bright Eyes are back, and it’s great to see Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nate Walcott all in one place — even with the corona-conscious social distancing.
For their performance of “Mariana Trench”, Bright Eyes eschewed split-screen and other quarantine camera tricks, keeping the presentation simple. The band members were dressed down, joined by backup singers Lucius in their bright green blazers and wigs. All the jump cutting almost led the whole thing to fall apart, except that Oberst sang so expressively, with such anger and conviction, that he singlehandedly transformed a wreck into something glorious.
Conor Oberst is 40 now, and other rock stars at that age may be content to sleepwalk through the late night circuit. But Oberst couldn’t stop moving, even though the camera was in close-up and he was standing inches from a microphone. He bounced in place and snapped off the lyrics, gnashing his teeth through the financial satire of the song. Despite his cerebral reputation, Oberst willed Bright Eyes to fame with his raw, passionate approach; he may be older now, but he sounds hungrier than ever. Check out Bright Eyes’ Colbert appearance below.
“Mariana Trench” is off Bright Eyes’ comeback album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, out August 21st. Pre-orders are ongoing, and the band has also shared the singles “Persona Non Grata”, “Forced Convalescence”, and “One and Done”.