Friday, October 14, 2005

The Decemberists – Flight of the Mistle Thrushes 2005 tour review

I heard great things about The Decemberists as a live act ranging from “incredible show” to “highlight of” whichever music festival they were performing at; so obviously I had to go when they came to town, even at the steep price of 20$ and the debatable venue of the Club Soda. It was well worth the effort and the additional stress of having to do all of this on Jewish New Year because as predicted, The Decemberists delivered an awesome show and interestingly enough, one rooted in very few theatrics.

Listening to The Decemberists’ music will put you in a world of pirates, rogues and thieves, a literary land of heartbreak and impossible love that somehow manages to be serious without falling into Spinal Tap territory. One would thus expect heavily planned theatrics, costumes and things of that nature to be a part of the band’s show, but instead Colin Meloy and his traveling band of musicians go for the opposite approach: an off the cuff, jokey exchange with fans punctuating strong direct renditions of material from their repertoire. Everything was a little tongue in cheek which goes a long way to making lines like I am tortured enjoyable in a concert setting and surprisingly Meloy is a really funny guy on the improve tip. If I was somewhat disappointed by the overly rehearsed nature of say…Of Montreal’s show, there was nothing of the sort here as topics of the night ranged from the DVD they watched backstage (Time bandits!) to the seedy venue location (they’re selling crack outside!) to being president of the high school French club. As for the music, it’s safe to say that they delivered with material covering all three albums, their debut EP an audience-demanded Morrissey cover and some stuff I’ve never even heard of. Impressive! On the downside, boy does The Club Soda have horrible sound. After a huge audience-patience-testing-sound check, things were STILL wrong with Petra’s monitors and minor glitches abounded. The band handled this absolutely perfectly with the kind of spontaneous humor I mentioned above, but EVERY show this place does is riddled with similar problems and they really ought to fix it. Hopefully I can see these guys again in more suitable venue.

As the show wound down, the crowd got frantic and surprisingly aggressive. All my previous indie rock experiences have involved incredibly passive music geeks, but this time we got treated to cries of ARCADE FIRE SUCKS: a hilarious beef idea if there ever was one (but one quickly diffused by the diplomatic singer). Finally, theatrics WERE brought into play as the last song was The Mariner’s revenge: a full on production involving divided room audience participation that left everyone with a big smile on their face. Definitely a recommended live act and one I’ll be sure to catch again once new material is released.

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