Lovely Evening for A Rock Opera

by | Jul 19, 2009

Finally! We made it to a Decemberists show.

image courtesy of Flickr user, carolyn_in_oregon

We tried to go to one a while back in Atlanta, but our flight from Savannah was canceled and we missed the show and ate the tickets. No such obstacles stood in our way last night. We sailed out I-84 to Troutdale and easily found a sweet spot to pitch our lawn chairs. We started tipping back wine and handcrafted brews care of our Edgefield hosts and generally speaking “got our show on.” And a great show it was.

Like us, Ryan White of The Oregonian attended last night’s concert featuring Blind Pilot, Andrew Bird and The Decemberists.

Here’s a segment of his writeup:

The Decemberists pulled off a combination perhaps only the Decemberists could pull off. They blistered an hour-long fantastical song cycle, followed it with a collection of favorites and the baddest cover of a Heart song ever.

Because if you’re going to have Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark, and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden on tour (playing the forest queen and the lovely Margaret), you damn well better do “Crazy On You.”

But let’s discuss the night’s centerpiece. “The Hazards of Love” is pretentious, and it does demand attention, and it’s as unlikely a major-label release as you’ll find in 2009. It’s as unlikely a release as you’ll find, period.

These aren’t bad things. If this is the age of the nerd, as John Hodgman would have us believe, here’s the soundtrack.

I’m not going to refute the nerd rock label, but I will add that The Decemberists’ music could serve as the soundtrack for several other movements, including almost anything nautical (take “The Deadliest Catch,” for instance). The band is also waving a flag for art and theater, for Portland and for indie rock.

I don’t know the band’s work well enough to say what it all means—the cyclical lyrics and their theatrical, sometimes comical, live performance. But I know enough to say I love it when post-modern nerd rock meets, however briefly, something resembling Black Sabbath. Those dark chords from decades past give the band’s heady music something steady to lean on. Which is a good thing when you’re a band with costumes, charisma, something to say and the ambition and talent to make it all come together.

[MP3 Offering] “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid” by The Decemberists