Live Review: Desaparecidos at The Crystal Ballroom

Aaron Sharpsteen / August 27, 2012
Desaparecidos at the Crystal Ballroom. Photo by Aaron Sharpsteen

Conner Oberst‘s band Desaparecidos did not disappoint on Sunday night at the Crystal Ballroom, performing an hour long set with almost all of the classics from their breakthrough album, Read Music, Speak Spanish. They started off with that album’s tribute to the town which is home to Saddle Creek records, “Greater Omaha.” The crowd knew all the words to most of the songs on the albums, and this was proven by the end of the first song, with most of the crowd chanting “Just one more mouthful and we will be happy then.” The energy was high during the beginning of the set, with guitarist Denver Dailey even showing the crowd some affection by getting right into it. Newer material was interspersed throughout the set, as was some political banter, with Oberst giving some half-hearted advice: “I urge you to vote for Obama, because he is the lesser of two evils…”

If there was any faltering, it was during the highly pointed song “$$$$.” The tempo seemed just a bit slower than the recording, and the breaks not as crisp. The crowd was still shouting the lyrics, and there is not much better than hearing a politically informed crowd singing along with lines like “Now I’m not one for handouts/No they’ve got to pay their dues/they can make our shoes…/and we’ll walk on you.” After about 10 songs, they took a quick break, then came back for a three song encore, starting it off with “Mañana,” one of the more rocking songs from Read Music, Speak Spanish, as well as a cover of The Clash’s “Spanish Bombs” and then ended the night with “Hole in One.”

There was just a hint of irony on the way out, as the price seemed a bit steep for the product. The opening band, Virgin Islands, were not bad by any means but were certainly out of their depth opening for Desaparecidos, which means that the 25 dollar cover basically got the audience about an hour’s worth of music, as the headliners only played for about 65 minutes, including an encore break and some political banter. It was also surprising that a band with a cult following like Desaparecidos did not sell out the venue as well, plenty of tickets were still available as they went on stage. Despite the brevity of the set, it was certainly memorable, especially for crowd members who had waited a decade to see a band that released one good album a decade ago and then broke up. Perhaps being out on the road will inspire the band to release another album of material and stick around a little longer this time around, as the niche for politically motivated post-hardcore bands is gaping – waiting to be occupied by an intelligent, talented band.

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