Since I have been waiting for this concert since it was announced back in July, I had high expectations for this concert. For a long period of time (July to late September), I assumed that I would have to go to the concert alone, since most of my friends are not interested in indie music (hip-hop and bad 80s music exerts a sort of tyranny over college playlists, it seems). Those whom actually have musical taste (zing!) either had prior commitments or think Colin Meloy, the lead singer of the Decemberists, is insufferably whiny. Luckily, I found a number of sophomores who had been introduced to the band through Picaresque.
I was going to take my camera to take ill-lit shaky pictures, or a notepad to record a setlist, but I thought it would seem weird. I did not want to be That Guy, writing down notes frantically in the dark as the music played. Since I am not some sort of professional concert reviewer, I assumed that the sophomores would think I was incurably strange.
Regardless of social insecurity, I had fun. The music was great, and it was strange to find myself in a room full of fans of a band that most people I know have never heard of. Since I assumed that the Decemberists would have to be amazing in concert, I compiled a list of some of their songs that had occupied the lofty position of "Martey's Most Favored Song" at some point in the past. It appears below in approximate chronological order. Songs in bold were actually played during the concert.
- July, July! (track 3 from Castaways and Cutouts) - despite being somewhat macabre, this is one of the happiest songs on the album. I liked it in October 2003, a time where I imagined/convinced myself that I was happy. I also liked A Cautionary Song during this period (its flippant and quirky lyrics appealed to me; no other band I knew about would dare to write songs about your mother being a prostitute), but it was omitted from the list when I made it last week.
- Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect (track 2 from Castaways and Cutouts) - this is probably the first Decemberists' song I ever heard. Interestingly, it was my favorite song back in November and December of 2003, right before I started using Movable Type to write online.
- The Legionnaire's Lament (track 8 from Castaways and Cutouts) - I always saw this is a sort of Iraqi protest song - an soldier fighting in a "foreign war" (albeit one in Algeria) misses home. Since 16 Military Wives is actually on the album that the tour is supporting, it is not surprising that they played it instead.
- California One / Youth & Beauty Brigade (track 10 on Castaways and Cutouts) - another absolutely beautiful song. It is ten minutes long and sort of slow, but it still would have been cool to hear it.
- The Soldiering Life, The Chimbley Sweep, and Song for Myla Goldberg (all from Her Majesty the Decemberists) - wrong album, I guess. "I Was Meant For the Stage" should really be included here as well, now that I think of it.
- Shiny - When I first heard "Shiny," it was a low-bitrate (96 kbps, I think) free download from Hush Records. I was unable to concentrate on the lyrics because of the fact it sounded absolutely horrible compared to normal 128 kbps MP3s, and deleted it. After I bought 5 Songs (sometime in spring 2004, I think), I gained a newfound appreciation of it. Of course, songs become much more meaningful when you can relate them to events in your life, so "Shiny" became far more important to me after December 2004.
To tell the truth, "Shiny" is probably my favorite Decemberists' song. The way that the song was played during the concert was really cool, too. Meloy asked the audience what songs they wanted to hear, and then launched into an solo version of "Shiny." To quote one of his later attempts at humor ("banter," he called it), this event was "well worth the admission price."
- Everything I Try to Do, Nothing Seems to Turn Out Right - I have talked about this song before. Since it only appears a B-side on the Billy Liar single, I did not really expect them to play it (too obscure). Like "Shiny," this song is associated in my mind with certain events from last December. But enough about that.
- The Engine Driver (actually from Picaresque) - this song is Picaresque's "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect (complete with dreamy lyrics and compelling melody). It was obvious that they would play this song.
I would say more about the concert, except that it is past 4am and I have class in about 6 hours.
Still, a post about music deserves
a MP3 link
Were I to elucidate further on this topic, it would occur in a protected post.
 I did not intend to write this much, but I am finding that these 870 or so words are not enough. If this entry gets comments complaining that I am not making any sense, I might explain my feelings further.
I would like to note that I find the fact that they opened with all 5 parts of The Tain incredibly amazing.