The Decemberists – 6/10/09

June 14, 2009

I had the pleasure of seeing the Decemberists on Wednesday night at Radio City. They played their new album, The Hazards of Love, in its entirety for the first set; an hour long rock opera, and so far one of my favorite releases of the year. When they entered the stage, all the lights were turned off, and I had never heard the music hall so quiet before. The silence didn’t last long, though, for every person practically lost it when magenta lights began flashing all around the room, creating a silhouette of the band on the wall. The trippy backdrop behind them- which resembled shriveled up trees with oozing cells- illuminated as they began to play the Hazards of Love 1, and would change colors as the first set progressed to fit the mood of each song perfectly, looking like this;

There were two main female voices, whose parts were played by Becky Stark and Shara Worden (of Lavender Diamond and My Brightest Diamond). While one played the part of the lovely woman dressed in white with a soft and sweet voice, the other played the jealous character who sang powerful vocals with anger and intensity. Meloy, of course, was the voice of the man who both desired. It was interesting to watch the story unfold on stage with no interruption until the final song had been played.

There was a break after the first set, and when the band returned, there was an entirely different atmosphere. Meloy started doing a lot of talking, and the band played a good amount of older songs that everyone knew. He eventually called for “audience choral practice,” where he had every section of the crowd singing different harmonies. It probably should have sounded like a train wreck, but with his conducting, it actually sounded as if every person in the crowd had a fantastic voice (though that definitely wasn’t the case). Meloy also pulled a girl on stage, handed her his guitar, and had her strum open chords while he jumped into the crowd, walking on top of every seat to high five people. He ended up having a man give him a piggy back ride back to the stage. Everything became much less organized- not at all in a bad way- and the music continued well past the “curfew” the venue had set.

After this show, I have to say that the Decemberists are one of the most impressive bands I’ve seen live so far, and I look forward to seeing them again at Lollapalooza in August.

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