Colin Meloy is quite a charismatic fellow for someone who writes songs about murder, rape and dead children. As he strutted out, leading his four talented instrumentalists onto the stage, Meloy was all smiles and gratitude, thanking the crowd for its patience in the soggy evening. “Rain, I command you to stop. I compel you to stop… within the next 15 minutes or so. Take your time, if you need to…” Received with laughs, his god-like spell seemed to work, as the rain went away three songs into the group’s set. And what a set it was. Playing a mix of this year’s The King Is Dead and the older catalogue (the band’s ﬁrst album was woefully underrepresented, however, with only set opener “July July” making an appearance), the Decemberists took control of the crowd—a crowd that sang along to every word of every song (there was even some singing for the Fruit Bats cover in the ﬁrst encore).
While Meloy gets all the initial praise and headlines, it’s important to note that the rest of the band is sharp and, in the case of drummer John Moen, rather hilarious: Moen duo’d with Meloy on “Raincoat Song,” simultaneously singing and raising his pant leg to woo the crowd. This is what made the show a delightful experience: the band goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone is having a good time, rain and ﬁghts (a quartet near this writer got into an escalated argument that almost ended in
ﬁsts) be damned. During the ﬁrst encore’s ending song, the “autobiographical” Her Majesty track “The Chimbley Sweep,” Meloy decided to say “fuck it” and went into the crowd, leading a singalong before crowd surﬁng his way back on stage. It was this type of showmanship that had the crowd riveted and yearning for more, which the group delivered with a second encore featuring the appropriately titled “June Hymn.” As the last notes rang out, and the band bowed profusely to the crowd, people ﬁled out, each singing their own little story of Victorian proportions.