After months of anticipation, eighty dollars spent, and more anticipation, I received an email from Ticketmaster informing me and, presumably, a plethora of disappointed fans, that The Decemberists‘ 4-night stint at the Fillmore in San Francisco had been cancelled, due to the illness of an unspecified band member. I had seriously been looking forward to it. It would have marked their musical and cultural promotion in the Bay Area; the last time I saw them live (and the time before that) they performed at the Warfield, an epic, ornate, and monumental venue in its own right. But the Fillmore carries a little more weight. Historical, funky, pot-filled, respectable weight. And I wanted to see them blossom as they made that big-time transition. A taste of the brilliance that is Colin Melloy and other citizens of the Pacific Northwest (at the Warfield last year):
But anyway. They really are that good. And Colin is sexier in real life, no joke. I’m not the type that does for anyone with a guitar strapped to their chest, but my best friend brought up a good point during her Melloy-haze/phase. It really is attractive when a musician can innovate. The lyrics, the music, the silences – that delicate combination is so hard to reinvent in this day and age, because all popular music essentially leans hard on the blues scale and the 32-bar chorus. So when a group, nay, an ensemble is comfortable and talented enough to play a song for at least ten minutes, and it doesn’t suck at all, I give them credit. In the case of the Decemberists, I give them a hell of a lot of credit, because it’s good shit. Melloy changes guitars like Celine Dion changes clothing, the backdrop is artistic and mystical, there are props (read: large papier-mache whale at the last show), there is audience participation (16 Military Wives, round-style), and there is furious unison and harmony that I only wish could be present at every other concert.
So I’m pretty bummed it didn’t happen this time. Rumor had it that The Long and Short of It was designed to be seen over a span of two days (so, in essence, they offered 2 concerts instead of 4, tricky). One night would be whimsical, one would be their hits. I would argue that their hits were inherently whimsical, but whatever. Mainstream radio might not have dug “Odalisque” or “The Island” as I did. My college budget had limited me to purchase a ticket for only one night, though, so the cancellation might have even served me well.