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.