02 June 2009

The Decemberists

You know what's sad? I just searched "decemberists" on this blog, and hardly anything came up! How could I have written 416 posts without extensively mentioning my favorite band OF ALL TIME?!

Okay, okay. So I first heard about the Decemberists from my darling friend, Lara. Our junior year of high school, we were crazy into going to concerts - especially at now gone Mississippi Nights. We saw SO many groups come through. One day at school, Lara was saying that this good band was playing that night at Mississippi Nights, and would I like to go? I was like, okay, cool, whatever. I had never heard of them and figured I may as well check them out (plus it would be an excuse to hang out with friends and the current boyfriend on a SCHOOL NIGHT!).

We get to the show, and it's packed. Hipsters are lined up around the building and spilling into the street. Me, Lara, Domenic and someone else...Katherine? Jenny? I don't know - have our tickets and are patiently waiting to be let in.

The thing is, I don't remember much of that night. It was over four years ago - but it was easily the beginning of my love affair with The D's. One of their most popular stage songs is "The Mariner's Revenge Song", which is accentuated with a giant whale with red eyes. Now, when I saw this performed at Mississippi Nights, it was this crappy little cardboard cut-out whale, but then I saw them again multiple times since then (duh) and now it's all fancy-schmancy and the eyes are glow-y!

ANYWAYS. So, Mariner's Revenge Song...definitely left an impression on me. The next day, after school (and profusely thanking Lara like all day long for introducing me to an incredible band), I ran out to Vintage Vinyl and bought Picaresque. I listened to said album ALL THE TIME in carpool - I was the driver, as a junior, so I got to pick the music. My younger sister hated it, but her friend, Zakea, loved it - I'll come back to her later.

Slowly, I began to accumulate other D's albums, mostly from the library. I was cheap. I listened to them on and off, never religiously - I only really listened to Picaresque like that. Then, I started college.

Pete and I were introduced by our friend, Christian. He's the same age as me, but he already had his foot in the door at KSLU, the campus radio station, and I desperately wanted a spot (I had turned my application in two days late). Christian introduced me to Pete one day, saying that I liked good music and that he should give me a show. And he did! But only because I "was cute" (Pete's words, not mine).

We hung out a couple of times and talked about music, a LOT - we had very similar tastes. Sufjan, the Hold Steady, Belle & Sebastian, and of course, The Decemberists. He mentioned that he and Steve (twin brother) were going up to Chicago to see the Decemberists in mid-November and like an idiot, I was all like, "OH HEY DO YOU THINK THERE WOULD BE ROOM FOR ONE MORE?!" and he was like, "uh....."

Also, I should mention here: Pete and Steve and some of their friends were ALL at the Mississippi Nights Decemberists show, the one that I went to as a "virgin". Fun fact: I took some video during Mariner's Revenge Song and I scan the audience (don't know why) and you can totally see the Wissinger Brothers and Company. Pretty amazing, huh?

But...anyways. Pete and I officially started dating before the November concert and we all drove up there together. Cold day, great show, we spent the majority of the day in a Borders across the street so we wouldn't freeze...

Next - my birthday. The Decemberists were playing a show in St. Louis on April 14 (the day before my birthday) and then another show on April 15 in Champaign, Illinois. So of course we HAD to see them both days. Pete, being a darling, emailed some of the band members asking if they would sing "Happy Birthday" to me. While they did not do that, they DID play my then-favorite Decemberists song - "The Tain" - which is like a mini rock-opera in five parts that lasts 19.5 minutes - because Pete told them it was my favorite song! I'm such a fan girl. The opening chords are very distinct, and the band came out on stage, said hi, then dove into playing - I SCREECHED when I heard it. It's on its own album, so not many people know about the song unless you're a crazy fan freak like me, or the company I keep - me, Steve, Pete, and Essner were all going crazy.

The next night, on my birthday, they played again and were amazing (again). THEN, I begged and begged Pete and Steve and Mary to hang out afterwards a little bit because I REALLY wanted to meet them on my BIRTHDAY and so I DID and it was awesome. They all said happy birthday (after Pete was all, "THIS IS MY GIRLFRIEND KAYLEN IT'S HER BIRTHDAY!" (Thanks, babe!)

So. No more Decemberists shows until July 2007, which was...fine. The group went on a small orchestra tour, playing select tunes with a full orchestra. We were so lucky, because they played up in Chicago, in Millennium Park. Steve had the brilliant idea to get press passes, so we did, too (I was press at the time! I swear!) and we had AMAZING seats and they sounded fantastical with the orchestra in the background and it was overall magical. Also, we were sitting at a picnic bench before the show started, and there were tons of people all over the place- tourists, hipsters, etc - and all of a sudden, I SAW COLIN (the lead singer, who is quite the dreamboat, I must say). So of course we ran over to him and got a picture, blah blah blah...

THEN it was almost a year before Pete and I saw him again. Colin was on a solo tour this time, and he made a stop in Lawrence, Kansas. We decided to make a weekend out of it (remember when I got my Betsey Johnson shoes? Same outing.), driving into Lawrence Friday night, watching him play, then driving back to Kansas City, staying the night, and exploring all day the next day. It was...amazing. I truly believe that it is impossible to see a Decemberists show and not leave with a smile on your face. Every show is adrenaline-pumping, and hilarious. The witty banter between songs makes me want to just be best friends with the band.

Last night, we all went and saw them again. Just as good as ever. Last night was the seventh time I had seen them; Pete's eighth. Maybe I'm (we're?) a little maniacal about it, but they are just amazing. I've put up some pictures from various shows, and I have tons of videos that I need to upload to youtube so I can use them. Keep an eye out for those later.

So, in conclusion - the Decemberists are amazing. They are hysterical. They make me smile, with their odd little songs and larger-than-life presence. I have met them all, and they are all wonderfully, refreshingly nice and pleasant to be around.

Also, some disclaimers.
1. It's funny to think that I used to write music/concert reviews all the time because I am NOT doing such a good job at describing this;
2. I may sound like a stalker, writing this whole thing - and I'm sorry if you feel that way - but the Decemberists are a darn good band to stalk. So...yeah.

This is their music video (one of the only songs there is an "official" music video of) for "16 Military Wives". I suggest that you turn your computer speakers on, listen to the music, watch the video, and count the indie people in the video. Not only is each Decemberists band member present, so is Carson Ellis (Colin's wife), Chris Walla (of Deathcab for Cutie), Nick Harmer (DCFC), and John Roderick (The Long Winters).

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