During much of his sold-out Bowery Ballroom set last night, Conor Oberst treated the mike like an adversary, approaching it cautiously and standing near it only when necessary. Instead, he jammed with members of the five-piece Mystic Valley Band, named for an area in Tepoztlán, Mexico, where they recorded Oberst’s newish, eponymous solo disc. But the boy remains a showman: The silver ring on his hand blurred as he attacked his guitar, which he at times held vertically, and even spun around like a dance partner. And the rollicking “I Don’t Want to Die (in the Hospital)” drew him right out of his shell, as he shouted the lyrics, marched in place, stroked keyboardist Nate Walcott's face and pecked him on the cheek, and finally slammed his half-empty Miller Lite can on the floor, stomped on it, and proclaimed, “I don’t wanna die!” —Vanita Salisbury
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