Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bad Idea Show Review: The Decemberists at the Murat Egyptian Room

Last night, the Decemberists made their first trip to Indianapolis. I was pumped for a few reasons:

#1: They're probably in my current top 5 favorite bands
#2: I'd only seen them one other time
#3: As a high school English teacher, I appreciate their high vocabulary and obsession with British folk tales
#4: It was on the same night as my best friend's bachelorette party.

side note regarding #4: Yes, I planned a bachelorette party. I'm her best man. It's nothing like that Patrick Dempsey movie. And it didn't involve plastic penises of any kind.

So, after a lovely bachelorette dinner that involved no "woo-ing" of any kind (the other bachelorette party that did include plastic penises woo-ed enough for the both of us), we headed in just as the Heartless Bastards got started.

I knew nothing of this band going in, but I thought they brought it. Admittedly, as we walked into the Egyptian Room and heard the lead singer's voice, we kept looking at the drummer, guitarist, and bassist, wondering how those guys were singing without moving their lips or standing in front of a mic. Then we realized that the lead singer was the girl on stage. She just sounded like a man. Still, it rocked. But it just didn't look right, that voice coming from that body. But if they're good enough for Letterman, they're good enough for me.

After the customary intermission, the Decemberists made their way to the stage. They had played Lollapalooza the previous night, and were continuing their current habit of playing two sets. The first would be a performance of their latest album The Hazards of Love in its entirety. While some critics weren't impressed with their attempt at a 50-minute song about forest queens and baby killers, I love the album, and seeing it performed live was more like watching a play. It was strange to not clap after each song, since so many of them blended together, faded away, and came back 20 minutes later. The crowd seemed to applaud for feats of musical strength, rather than the end of songs. Wicked xylophone solo? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!! psychodelic guitar freak-out? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!! Shara Worden charging to the front of the stage and shaking the Egyptian tombdwellers back to life? HERE HERE!! HAR HAR!!

A quick note on Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond. I know of her band. I think I even have a couple albums on my iPod. She's a labelmate of my boyzzz Jookabox. But I've never listened. Well, her performance stole the show from the Decemberists. It was loud. It was passionate. It won me over. Becky Stark, though her performance as Margaret looked a bit too much like a Woodstock attendee tripping on acid, impressed with her voice as well.

I imagine that those fans unfamiliar with the album may have found themselves bored at times, but not this guy.

After intermission, they returned for their 2nd set. Luckily, I was texting each song as they played to a buddy that couldn't attend the show, so I can recall the set list:

Set 1:
The Hazards of Love (the whole darn thing)

Set 2:
July, July (in my top 5 Decemberists songs)
Billy Liar (complete with Colin-directed audience group harmonizing)
The Sporting Life
Down By the Water (new song, Colin had a harmonica, so that was neat)
The Crane Wife 3
Yankee Bayonet
**Dracula's Daughter (worst song Colin ever wrote)
O Valencia
Crazy On You (Heart cover)

Raincoat Song
Sons and Daughters ( 5)

**Colin released a live album with a recording of this song. He tells a story of it being the worst song he ever wrote. That's why it's only one verse long. But tonight, he told some meandering story about how it was so bad that God cried when he wrote it. And those tears formed the Nile River. And civilizations thrived around that river. And those societies eventually died through conflict and war. But then an Indianapolis explorer found one of their ancient Egyptian ballrooms in perfect condition.....and transported it to his hometown. Then we laughed. I've noticed this tendency of bands that play the Egyptian Room to mention its uniqueness. I guess growing up here, I assumed most concert venues had a theme that can also be found at the Sybaris.

Sadly, there was no 2nd encore, which would have likely brought the Mariner's Revenge Song, which I've yet to see (and scream) live. But alas, you can't win 'em all.

Highlights of the show:
  • The Rake Song (infanticide never sounded so booming)
  • the Heart cover (the Diamond gals killed it)
  • Sons and Daughters (I get chills just watching this crappy youtube recording....complete with woo girls.....aaaaaaaand full circle!!!)