The Decemberists College Street Music Hall New Haven, CT Monday July 27, 2015 Reviewed
The Decemberists are your quintessential plaid and beard band. Hipster? Nah, they’re not hip enough, though they were back in the beginning.. so long ago. Well, the band got going in 2000 with an odd Portland OR following, they were the uncool cool that helped fuel the path for this crazy genre called Indie Folk.
I have loved this band since I heard the infamous “Rakes Song”. Not once did I consider these guys American. With the odd layered instrumentation and quirky vocals its just too .. expensive sounding to be American.. We serve it up cheap here, we scrimp on strings and accordions.
This five piece group of AV nerd showed up in Yale town New Haven CT last night and much to my surprise…. didn’t surprise. I was most concerned that the new College Street Music Hall would be too slick, too hip too.. New Haven. What I found instead was a cozy local that I’m thrilled to have close by. Sound and acoustics were the best I have heard in forever, for that alone I am incredibly grateful. Having had to sacrifice sound for live action the past few gigs I’ve seen, its great to see a venue with focus in the right place. Let me see them, and keep the sound true to form. College Street did both- thank you.
My error in judgment here was not getting a seat. I opted for the GA standing floor and well lets face it, The Decemberists aren’t a fist pumping dance band. Don’t get me wrong the hype it up now and then but they are a seated band. And the Hall does offer that- but again, being unfamiliar I had no idea. Next time, man.
Colin Meloy is, at age 40, a storyteller daddy with the charisma of the quirky neighbor who has a huge compost pile in the yard. Vocally I could indulge all day. A strange pitched vibrato that again, in no way sounds like West Coast America. Shouldn’t he be from Vienna or some other baroque location? A dark thick woven tapestry of lyric and vocal leaves me feeling uncomfortable but in a good way. Its music from another time. Part shanty pub part seedy dark alley and all incredibly addictive.
The set list kept the crowd engaged with plenty from the latest album “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”, the band didn’t stay there hoping from “Picaresque” to “The Crane Wife”and up and down the discography the shift showed that despite a distinct maturation in sound, the familiar stories remain consistent. Meloy was more than MC and engaged with the crowd in fun hand clapping games and sing back. You’d expect him to be shy but he was that nerdy guy that cracked the class up. The problem is I couldn’t hear a lot of what he was saying but.. I did here the following “hey yeah ok” and ‘chips and salsa’. Out of context yes but the area I was in was inhabited with talkers so I missed most of his joking. I did though get to see the antics and most importantly hear an amazing concert from a band I adore.
I will admit that I cut out after “The Rakes Song”, end of first encore. I would have stayed if I were in a better location. I went in loving the band and walked out loving them even more. Despite the disappointment of one week album “The King is Dead” it was just a couple tunes in an otherwise flawless set list.
I want to see them again. Seated and with a venue staff that shushes people.
A+ and concert of the year.