Monday, December 8, 2008

Rocking Out With Aunt & Uncle5000

We took Niece #1 out to see the Decemberists on Thanksgiving Saturday. It was her first rock show. When I stop to think about what it would have been like to be taken to a rock show by MY aunts or uncles when I was 19, I marvel at what a patient and accommodating young woman Niece #1 is. She seemed to have a good time, in any event, cheering, buying a souvenir, and holding her cell phone toward the stage to taunt and/or share the experience with Niece #2, who was home in Alaska and allegedly jealous. [for background on the Nieces, the 5000s, and the Decemberists, see "A Decemberists Tale," August 2007]

Mrs.5000 and I have now seen the Decemberists four times, plus two of Colin Meloy's solo shows, and I can say with confidence that we've never seen them look so... um... tired. Well, they were at the end of a national tour and probably recovering from a lethargic turkey binge with their families just like the rest of us. They are solid enough professionals to produce high quality rock music even under these circumstances, however, and a supportive hometown crowd kept things lively.

The pleasant surprise of the night was the opening band, an act from here in the City of Roses called Loch Lomand. I had heard of them in the local press, and knew they were well-regarded, but had got the impression that they were some kind of crypto-Celtic band. They aren't.

Now, I confess that when an eight-person band strides onstage with one member clutching a viola and another a bass clarinet, I am already on their side. My hopes for groovy sonic textures were not disappointed, either, as the set featured flutes, a regular clarinet, a bowed saw, and one of those plastic tubes you swing over your head, all supporting lush vocal harmonies led by a male singer who ranges from a full falsetto to a robust shouting baritone. The songs were similarly quirky, lots of 3/4 time signatures and unusual structures, and yet none of the above so far away from the mainstream to be tiresome or inaccessible.

Often times a band with a complex sound has a hard time in the studio, so I bought their record (Paper The Walls) but kept my expectations low. But it's good! Quite good, actually.


d said...

viola and a bowed saw? sign me up. i'm already liking them just based on your description.

niece #1 is a very enlightened young woman indeed.

DrSchnell said...

Saw the same pairing of bands in Philadelphia earlier in November - I think it was the second or third show of this tour - and also enjoyed Loch Lomond. They turned out to be much more than the earnest folkie group that I expected - very enjoyable - quirky and experimental, yet accessible on a first listen, and a singer with a remarkable expressive range. Decemberists were very good too. I have no previous encounters to compare it to , but I think I can safely say that they rocked. Colin did seem a little crabby at times, but elated at others (it was the Friday after the election, after all). He also seemed to delight in seeing just what kind of weird shit he could get the audience to do. One disconcerting moment - when Colin tried to get the entire audience to jog in place, then lay down on the floor, during "The Perfect Crime". One guy refused to lay down. The back of his shirt said "BORN TO KILL" (or something like that - memory is a bit sketchy. "Kill" was prominently featured, though). Colin was mocking him a bit to get him to lay down as well, but he wouldn't. Roomful of concertgoers laying on the ground. Lone surly guy with icky shirt on standing up looking pissed off. Creepy undertones of potential psychopathic violence were had by all. Then he complied, and rockingness ensued once again.
Surprised that they didn't play anything at all off of the upcoming album, but they did play a bunch of the new singles (New England, Valerie Plame, etc.). I think Jenny Conlee (sp?) was the most fun to watch - she's off in her own crazy accordion world on the edge of the stage, and it seems to be a world that it somewhat displaced from the one that the rest of us inhabit. In a good way.
One notable fact about the concert. I think two of the people in the band are older than I am. This does not happen often. Also, there were quite a few in the crowd who were older than I am. That also does not happen often.

DrSchnell said...

And no, the shirt didn't say "Kill Rock Stars" (the label name).

Anonymous said...

waaaay back in the day, like... even when we were hanging out, colin meloy used to play shows at the laurelthirst - pre-decemberists days. it was great - maybe 15 to 20 people, and you could typically count on a rousing rendition of maggie may. there's something intriguing about the way he opens his mouth. commenting on such a thing could make me seem a bit weird, i know... i digress.

Kritkrat said...

I feel for Niece #2. The only semi-good band to come up to Juneau in the last three years has been Hells Belles, the all girl AC/DC cover band...

Kritkrat said... she gets saddled with the #2 title. Not fair.

Michael5000 said...

@d: Yeah, I kinda thought you might like 'em actually.

@Dr: Jenny is da bomb. She's the dork heart of the band.

@Annie: I actually agree: there is something intriguing about the way he opens his mouth. But let us speak no more of this.

@Kadonk: Niece #2 is only #2 in chronological order, not in awesomeness. The Nieces #1 - 4, although all very different, are all off the charts in awesomeness.