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Bright Eyes Denounce Clear Channel At Shortlist Awards Ceremony

10/06/2003 5:00 AM, Yahoo! Music
Lyndsey Parker

(10/6/03, 5 a.m. ET) -- While giving a stellar performance last night (Sunday, October 5) at the third annual Shortlist Awards show at Los Angeles's Wiltern Theatre, Bright Eyes frontman/mastermind Conor Oberst used his between-song stage time to verbally attack Clear Channel Entertainment, the massive media company that promotes the Wiltern's concerts. While his comments were generally met with enthusiastic cheers by the young crowd, Bright Eyes' set did unfortunately end with one irate spectator jumping onstage and spitting at Oberst. It was unclear whether this nasty episode had anything to do with Oberst's earlier remarks.

During the ceremony, held to recognize the most creative and adventurous album of 2003, Nebraskan singer-songwriter Oberst--who was nominated for his release Lifted… and performed with a complete 12-piece orchestra--raved about his fellow nominees and expressed gratitude for the chance to perform at the awards show. But he then added, "The only bummer about tonight is that we're helping to earn money for Clear Channel," complaining that the mega-media conglomerate--the world's largest promoter and marketer of live entertainment--makes it difficult for indie bands to tour. "If there's anyone who cares about music as an art form, now's the time to make a change," he declared. "There will be no more real music anymore if we keep letting people shove it down our f--king throats."

After receiving a warm round of supportive applause, Oberst and his orchestra tore into their final number, during which one admirer climbed onstage, dropped to his knees, and bowed in "I’m not worthy"-style worship at Oberst's feet. However, the mood was soured when the aforementioned detractor also made it onto the stage, stood right in front of Oberst, and spat on Oberst's shoes before being dragged off by security.

Other nominated performers of the evening--whose sets passed without incident--included Interpol, Floetry (introduced by Macy Gray), the Streets (introduced by Dan The Automator of Gorillaz/Handsome Boy Modeling School), Cody Chesnutt (introduced by Musiq), Cat Power, and the Black Keys (introduced by Beck). At the end of the evening, when presenting the 2003 Shortlist Music Prize to Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice (whose performance with a full band was another one of the live-music highlights of the night), Shortlist founders Greg Spotts and Tom Sarig thanked Clear Channel, but did not acknowledge Oberst's anti-Clear Channel comments.

-- Lyndsey Parker, Los Angeles

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