Katie Crutchfield was destined to be a Bright Eyes fan. The singer-songwriter, who performs poignant folk-rock as Waxahatchee, recalls the music of Conor Oberst as a crucial turning point in her upbringing as a self-proclaimed outcast in suburban Alabama: “I feel like Bright Eyes had one of the biggest impacts of any band at the time,” Crutchfield tells Consequence by phone from her Kansas City home.
It’s serendipitous that nearly twenty years after she first became enamored with albums like Letting Off the Happiness, Fevers and Mirrors, and Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, Waxahatchee would be pegged to open for the Bright Eyes show, along with Lucy Dacus, at New York’s Forest Hills Stadium on July 31st. (The emo-folk titans played their first show together since 2011 on July 27th in Lewiston, NY.)
After Oberst spent the better part of the past decade performing with various other projects — perhaps most notably his duo with Phoebe Bridgers, Better Oblivion Community Center — Bright Eyes was ready, and long overdue, for a reintroduction. Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, their tenth album, was announced in January 2020, with the assumption that Oberst and company would finally be taking the band on the road once again. The pandemic, of course, thwarted those hopes.
Now, it’s back to the stage. This weekend’s concert at Forest Hills also marks one of New York City’s first major live music events since March 2020. To celebrate the occasion, Oberst and Crutchfield hopped on the phone with Consequence to discuss how they’ve been preparing, their favorite songs the other has written, their songwriting process, and more.