Conor Oberst Drunk At Glastonbury, Calls John Peel "A Cokehead"
I've pieced together some of what happened during the bizarre set: At one point, Oberst yelled, "John Peel was a cokehead. I suppose that's why I like him; we have a lot in common." Some audience members left; some heckled Oberst. "You're a dick!" was "the most popular" choice. Oberst threw the mike stand at the crowd during the second song and left the stage for seven minutes before returning and complaining of technical problems. He told the crowd, "John Peel is shit and so is the festival."
Making light of Glastonbury's Make Poverty History campign, he said, "What am I doing? Making poverty history, that's what kids... This next song is definitely going to make poverty history. Poverty - you're fucked!" More people then left. Toward the end of the set, he encouraged the crowd to leave after his next song, as it wasn't going to improve. A naked girl jumped on stage and rushed at him, and was removed by security, but briefly improved his spirits. He declared the moment "pretty great" and said he took it "all back, RIP John Peel, Make Poverty History, yay." He then threw "every bit of equipment he" could at the crowd and left.
Oberst has now given his "sincerest apology" for his remarks about John Peel in "a statement issued exclusively to NME.COM." I think exclusive statements are usually the best way to apologize for pretty much anything.
"I would like to express my sincerest apology to the friends and family of Mr. Peel for anything I said during our performance at Glastonbury. I truly don’t remember much of the show but have been informed since of what I said and it was way out of line and far from my real feelings. I have nothing but respect for John Peel and his beautiful gift for sharing music. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but by all accounts he was an outstanding man and deserves much more respect then I showed." - Conor Oberst, in his exclusive statement to NME.COM
Since it's an exclusive statement, I left out the last sentence, but here's a hint as to its brief content. Oberst claims he is sorry, and not just a little bit.
Let's hope John Peel's family and friends are loyal NME.COM readers, or that word spreads to them, since the apology to them is in the form of an exclusive statement to NME.COM. Oberst offered no apology for the part about the Make Poverty History Campaign, unless he is saving that apology for another website or publication. NME received e-mails from people who were "appalled" about his remarks about both John Peel and the Make Poverty History Campaign. If he isn't sorry for those remarks, however (once someone told him what he said), it is more honest of him to not issue a phony apology. I also hate those "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" non-apologies.
A Glastonbury attendee who wrote to NME, upset about Oberst's remarks, thought he was upset that Peel didn't play his songs; I'm not sure whether Oberst said something like that. Maybe Oberst wanted to rub it in that now he was playing the headline set on the John Peel stage, although I tend to think not considering how badly it went. It is also a bit less impressive knowing that he was only promoted to headliner when Ryan Adams had to cancel due to an ear infection.
On the positive side for Oberst, the person who wrote that e-mail feels he is "quite possibly a genius." However, they did add, "clearly, he is a complete cock." They say he lost them as a fan, and they "think and hope" he lost a lot of fans. I would think so, even without the remarks about John Peel and Make Poverty History. Throwing equipment at the crowd is dangerous. Telling them they should just leave is asshole behaviour.
The overriding question remains: Why is Oberst performing while "wildly intoxicated?" He says he truly doesn't remember much of the show. Doesn't that concern him? This confused me, and I wondered why he didn't attempt to explain his behavior or seem alarmed about it. I started googling. I'm not a Bright Eyes fan -- far from it. I didn't know that being drunk is a lifestyle choice for Oberst. Turns out, he is well-known for playing shows while extremely drunk, and not infrequently, he also acts obnoxiously toward the audience. This behaviour is apparently acceptable to some of his fans, who are willing to support and encourage his, let's say, "behaviour that is not inconsistent with alcoholicism" by continuing to attend his shows after seeing him play drunk. He plays drunk on a regular basis. Some people feel sad about it; some think it's funny. I would think people who like him would want him to get help. Going to his shows helps him pretend he is functioning just fine. I'm not googling the cocaine reference too. He might have been joking about being a cokehead or not. If not, obviously it's in his best interests to address that too.
I've never liked him (not that I actually know him), and I still don't, but I do feel empathy for him now. I think it's bizarre that some people consider it okay, funny or cool that he seems to spend much of his life, at least much of his working life, drunk off his ass.
"This is really fuckin' early to be doing something like this. But it's kinda fun being drunk in the morning." - Conor Oberst, Friday, midmorning, Pyramid stage, Glastonbury