Bright Eyes released an album, but they’re not on tour. So there’s no stop in the D.C. offices of NPR Music. But thankfully NPR has been working with artists to release Tiny Desk Concerts even if they’re not filmed at Bob Boilen’s workspace.
Bright Eyes’ home version of Tiny Desk features all three band members — Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott — as well as vocalist Becky Stark, singer of Lavender Diamond.
“We’re called Bright Eyes,” Oberst said. “We are not at Bob’s tiny desk, but we’re at Mike’s giant desk, which is our console in our studio. We’re happy to be here with you… Hope you’re doing OK in this insanity where we find ourselves. We hope you’re all doing good, staying sane and all that.”
Of course, they weren’t all in the same room. Mogis and Oberst were in Omaha at ARC, the recording studio between both of their homes. Walcott and Stark were 1,500 miles away in LA at Lucy’s Meat Market, the studio of composer and multiinstrumentalist Pete Min.
As is usual, the band worked through a set that included new material from the band’s album, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, and one old tune, Shell Games.
The songs were stripped back. Marianas Trench is just Oberst and Stark on vocals, Mogis on pedal steel and Walcott on piano.
Shell Games is one of my favorites for the band to play live, and this time they pulled it off wonderfully even with just Oberst at keyboards, Mogis on guitar and Walcott on synthesizers. It was way stripped back, and it left Oberst’s vocals out front like they were wavering in the wind. It was perfect.
The whole thing was directed by acclaimed Omaha filmmaker and musician Nik Fackler.
“Hopefully we see y’all in the real world in not too long of time,” Oberst said.
For more than a decade, Kevin Coffey has been Omaha's music guy. He's also a journalist, photographer, husband, dad, Mets fan, comic nerd, Dungeon Master and Jays fan. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.