I refuse to call it Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. (How the hell does a music venue manage to sound like: a condom; a managed-care retirement facility; and a Rennaissance faire all at the same damn time? Even Frank Gorshin is stumped.) But I went there with some friends on Friday night to catch my first Decemberists show.
I'm not one given to telling people how to live their lives (please ignore the blog category called How To Live Your Life: I haven't put anything in there since 2002 (and most of my blog categories are going away soon, but more on this later.)) But I will tell you this: go see The Decemberists live. Now. Or, like.. next-to-now. Okay, the next time they come through your city will be fine.
I guarantee that you'll walk away pleased. I seriously don't think I've ever been to a more enjoyable rock show in my life.
I've only been a Decemberists fan for a couple of months (I have Rich Fulcher and eMusic to thank, respectively) but I came expecting gorgeous, lush compositions. The smart (on so many levels) lyrics, and the overall emotional impact of the songs. How can a band sing about English boot-blacks and orphaned, seafaring, revenge-seeking waifs and make it all sound so damn contemporary?
But I wondered beforehand if they'd have the same appeal live. Would they come off as too mannered, or affected? Or - god forbid - would they exhibit an utter and complete lack of live chops?
Of course I shouldn't have worried.
Colin Meloy is captivating onstage. He's the coolest geek you'll ever pay money to watch. (“This is what happens when the drama-class nerd becomes a rock star” my friend Rob says right before the first encore.)
He organized an audience dance-off; he pitted left against right in a fist-waving “La-de-da”-down during 16 Military Wives. (Is it wrong to admit that a bands most popular song also just happens to be one of your personal favorites? I swear! My love goes deeper than the one catchy song with a Rushmore-themed video! But it's a great fucking song.) He lifted some dude's cellphone and hit redial midsong to thunderous peals of laughter from the crowd. I can only imagine what the person on the other end of that call experienced.
Colin is the most maniacally visible member of the band, but I really got the impression that, musically, they're truly a band of equals. Trading off instruments (bouzouki, plucked violins, organ, squeezebox, banjo, shaken egg) and vocals, and jokes (okay, some really bad jokes, but it was nice to see such easygoing, honest-looking cameraderie.) Their live sound is incredibly tight, but the vibe stayed loose the whole night.
Did I mention that, during the encore, The Decemberist Players staged a reenactment of the 1916 Battle of Gallipoli (complete with audience members as 'the camels and cacti of the desert?')
Like I said, I don't think I've enjoyed a show quite so much ever before. It was also a nice opportunity to catch up with some friends that I haven't seen in a while. My friend Nate, whom I've known since 6th grade, came along. He barely knew the band, but left a fan. And my friend Rob and his girlfriend Kiesha have seen the band 4 or 5 times, so they knew exactly what to expect. (Rob actually promoted their first couple of shows in Columbus. He's special like that.)
LeeAnn stayed home - she doesn't know the band, and we both thought that 'jostling crowd + whisps of pot smoke' wouldn't help her continuing nausea at all. But I'm totally taking her next time. Pregnant or not.