Guest post by Chelsea Hicks.
In the niche-driven world of independent rock, Decemberists staunchly stand apart as blenders of genre. And if Bon Iver’s and Sufjan Stevens’ departures from folk to electronic music with Bon Iver and The Age of Adz can shock, then the Decemberists’ wild jumps from folk, to prog rock, to old school country beat those bands in the game of album diversity.
The Decemberists’ eclectic show last night at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion was no different than the band’s catalogue; it served up everything from heavy rock, to light folk and everywhere in between. The moodswing-inducing setlist spanned the hard-core Hazards of Love to their latest album, a country effort called The King is Dead, among the latest indie hits to reach #1 on the Billboard Charts.
But even with such a wide variety, the band’s histrionics pushed the music to the backseat at times. Between frontman Colin Meloy’s switching places with drummer John Moen, who told a tale of jumping into the lake with his phone—complete with Moen writhing on the stage floor to convey his self-deprecation—and Meloy’s pointing his box fans at sweat-dampened audience members for almost five minutes, one began to wonder: Is this a variety show? Clearly, The Decemberists enjoy a bit of drama, but how much drama does it take to turn a rock concert into a musical?
The Decemberists. More below.
But with such experienced orchestrators as The Decemberists on the stage, there can be no doubt there is reason to the rhyme. The Evanescence-meets-Neil-Young feel of the night was intentional. Meloy, long a resident of Portland, moved to a more rural spot outside the city to write The King is Dead, but still sometimes misses “the epic-ness of the other albums," he said in a recent interview. "…But it’s nice to get all of the information across in three minutes. It’s like going from reading a novel to reading a bunch of short stories."
Whatever they’re playing, blending Americana and dramatic storytelling is just The Decemberists’ way of keeping it epic.
What did you think of the show?
Cool Charlottesville-specific flyer!