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22 May 05

the decemberists were meant for the stage

my first impression when i walked into the phoenix last night for the decemberists show was “oh great, it’s another opera house”. the place was pretty jammed (as expected, since the show had to be moved to a larger venue, and then subsequently sold IT out), and superficially does sort of resemble the shitty opera house, in that it’s a large room with a balcony and a raised stage. thankfully, the floor was much more forgiving, and we actually found a spot from which both of us could see quite well. gold star for the phoenix.
throughout the show itself, i kept mentally comparing it with the hot hot heat show i caught a couple weeks ago at the koolhaus (and, due to lack of blog, i never wrote about). here’s a quick comparison:

decemberists hot hot heat
were geeky and endearing without any pretension were far too wrapped up in their self image to be too endearing. steve bays still has some of the enthusiasm he offered when i first saw them at the scherzo a couple years ago, but the rest of the band really offered nothing.
seemed to genuinely enjoy each others company, laughing and joking between songs, and generally interacting with one another might as well have been performing at different venues
played much of their latest album, picaresque, and mixed in a number of oldies, including july, july!, legionnaire’s lament, the chimbley sweep, i dreamed i was an architect, and others, as well as covering a moz song played much of their latest album, elevator, and mixed in a number of songs from make up the breakdown and one (le le low) from their self-titled ep
included a wide mix of instruments, including several guitars (electric and acoustic), drums, a stand up bass, a mandolin, keyboards, accordion, a melodica, a xylophone, tambourines, and others i’ve probably forgotten somehow managed to convert most of the songs’ keyboard parts so they could be played with one hand, effectively removing keys as their main instrument
asked for audience participation during the mariner’s revenge song, during which everyone was asked to scream as though they were being eaten by a whale when the top secret signal was given had an audience who randomly screamed at times like the 15 year olds they were.
had possibly the best sound quality of any show i’ve seen this year. each instrument was audible and just right in the mix – a real rarity of late blew us away with a wall of sound. i wasn’t able to discern one instrument from another, and felt like i was going to be knocked down by the volume
played a 19+ show, thus we weren’t surrounded by my first concert‘s played an all ages show that made me want to die
had an audience member who was a self-proclaimed decemberists expert, who could tell you everything about the other two times he saw them (including encore choices) and felt obliged to share his fandom with everyone by singing loudly, at times drowning out colin meloy. oh, and he “air guitared” during an accordion solo. no joke. had a thousand audience members with whom, quite frankly, i can’t believe i have ANY musical taste in common
played for about an hour and a quarter, which meant we were home by 9 (!) they announced they would be rushing off to catch M.I.A. and LCD soundsystem at another venue. played for about an hour and a quarter, which was a drastic improvement over the 45 minute set i experienced the last two times i saw them
cost me $15 cost me $22ish

summary: i loved the decemberists show a lot, and am happy i finally caught them live. the fans were appreciative and, with the exception of mr. expert (see above) they were fun. the hot hot heat show, meanwhile, was NOT worth the money. they weren’t horrible but didn’t wow me, and the crowd didn’t help.

4 Responses to “the decemberists were meant for the stage”

  1. 1
    Sofi Says:

    I chose Carole Pope over The Decemberists, not realizing the latter was an EARLY show. Thoroughly kicking self.

    Which Kate Bush song did they cover?

    And did they also do a version of “Ask”?

  2. 2
    pager Says:

    no ask. and it wasn’t a kate bush song…it was every day is like sunday. i don’t need to tell you who that’s by.

  3. 3
    anne... Says:

    correction: they did do a kate bush cover, wuthering heights. that was the really awful number in the middle of the set, sung by petra hayden. the morrisey cover was the first song of the encore… consisting of just colin meloy on acoustic guitar.

  4. 4
    Sofi Says:

    Hi. We dated for over a year and you didn’t immediately recognize a Morrissey song?


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