I recently went to see The Decemberists, one of my very favorite bands, at Atlanta’s Tabernacle Theater. This was the first time I had seen them play live, and the concert most definitely delivered.
I have been in love with the new album, The Hazards of Love, since my first listen through it, and I was glad to know I’d be able to hear them play it straight through during their first set. Although the room was hot enough to have us all sweating like we were in a Bikram yoga class, none of us cared. The band’s performance was spot on and the bar was only an arm’s reach away.
As I rocked out and swilled some over-priced Jim Beam, I managed to snap a few photos and even tried to record a few snippets of music on my iPhone. Our place in the crowd was convenient for finding each other and being comfortable, but it wasn’t the best for photography, so you’ll have to pardon the crap quality there.
They played the hell out of Hazards, with only one tiny exception: the creepy chorus of dead children in “The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)” was piped in. We supposed it would be impractical to tour with a creepy chorus of dead children (I mean what do you feed them? And are the dead subject to child labor laws?), but we’d thought there could have been some kind of creative workaround for this. Other than that, the performance of Hazards went of stupendously, and my girlfriends Shara Worden and Becky Stark were incredible – as expected. (Although it must surely have been awkward for them to be performing on stage with my boyfriend, Colin Meloy. I hope there wasn’t too much tension on my account, you know?)
The second set was made up of a bunch of old favorites, including (if I can now recall correctly), “July, July,” “The Engine Driver,” and “O! Valencia,” among others. I particularly enjoyed hearing them play “The Raincoat Song,” as it is, to me, the perfect songly incarnation of the Pacific Northwest, water wicking up your pant legs and all. It fills me with the happy sort of longing, where I am longing for something I don’t have and don’t really want all that much (wet pant legs are my sworn enemy, but I do miss their familiarity to a degree). Well, that made no sense. IRREGARDLESS, as my students would say, I enjoyed it very much.
The highlight of the second set, however, was the return to the stage of Shara Worden and Becky Stark, who absolutely fucking blew me away with their rockin’ rendition of “Crazy on You.” The original Heart version is of course a classic, but this was approximately eighty hojillion times more badassed.
Embarrassingly, I tried to record a little of it with my iPhone, thinking that I could edit the sound later with one of the many sound editing programs I seem, inexplicably, to have. I couldn’t really figure out how to do that, though, as the software kept expecting me to know things about Mhz and other letters. So anyhow, I have this EXTREMELY CRAPPY sound file that I am going to insist on posting here just BECAUSE. I suggest you not bother listening to it. It’s honestly a waste of time and it will just make you sad that you can’t listen to the real performance. If, however, you defy my warning and listen anyway, you’re going to want the volume at a low level.
On the other hand, the real performance was honestly so awesomely mind-blowing that maybe it’s best, for your SAFETY, that you are unable to appreciate it in its full glory.