A couple of months ago, Better Oblivion Community Center announced their existence to the world, and they did it on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. The duo — the team-up of absurdly charismatic indie rock singer-songwriter all-stars Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst — had been widely rumored and teased, but they didn’t make their public debut until that night on Colbert, where they played “Dylan Thomas” and the Colbert team did their best to make the performance look like a ’90s infomercial, replete with VHS fuzz. That same night, they surprise-released their great self-titled debut album. And last night, Oberst and Bridgers returned to late-night TV.
Better Oblivion Community Center’s second late-night performance was on James Corden’s Late Late Show, the show that comes on immediately after Colbert. Together, they knocked out “Sleepwalkin’,” one of many great songs on that album. This performance, unlike the last, was not a performance-art stunt. They played their song straight-up, with no satirical meta-hijinks. And they did it with their touring band, without any star ringers like Nick Zinner. All of this was fine. Those two are great onstage, separately and together, and it is fun to watch them do what they do.
Come to think of it, the duo have now performed on TV three times, including a shot on CBS This Morning, and all three times have been on CBS shows. So: Has a star indie rock duo, one who just made an album full of sly commentary on the absurdities of late-capitalism American life, inked some kind of exclusive CBS deal? How weird would that be? But while we look forward to their guest-starring arc on NCIS, let’s watch last night’s performance below.
Better Oblivion Community Center is out now on Dead Oceans.