Saturday, July 07, 2007
The Decemberists at the Hollywood Bowl
I got lucky before 7/7/07. I magically got fourth row pool tickets for The Decemberists at the Hollywood Bowl backed by the L.A. Philharmonic. I was excited to see the L.A. Philharmonic from the fourth row let alone see The Decemberists. The package deal was sweetened with Band of Horses and Andrew Bird.
Ben Bridewell (Vocals,Guitars) and his Band of Horses started at 7:30pm sharp. I was slightly tardy due to the high volume of traffic surrounding the Hollywood Bowl. I did manage to catch the last three songs of the set. Ben was playing a wine red custom Gibson Les Paul with a capo on the third fret as he plucked out the ringing chords of "The Funeral". It did seem like the band was performing to the pool arena as Ben made a comment about the nice seats that the people had in front of me. Their performance reminded me of The Shins in that they let their songs do the talking. The pool area gave them a standing ovation. I don't know if it translated to the back of the Bowl but they are a band that you need to see in an intimate venue. Ben mentioned that their new album is due out in October which garnered some cheers from the audience.
Andrew Bird (Guitar,Violin,Vocals,Glockenspiel) made up for the fact that he was not backed by the L.A. Philharmonic by the skillful use of his loop station. Andrew would sample his violin playing and start stacking his violin loops to create an orchestral effect. I was also impressed with his spinning Janus Horn Specimen speaker that he would activate to provide a swirling and swooshing effect to his songs. Andrew was rocking out on his Gibson ES-175 hollowbody guitar. The audience received his songs quite well. Peter, Bjorn, & John were put to shame as Andrew whistled throughout the set very proficiently to add to the cacophony of sounds from his mini orchestra three piece band. His new album "Armchair Apocrypha" was released on Fat Possum records earlier this year and I will be checking it out.
The Decemberists came out to a rapturous applause and quickly started in on "The Crane Wife 1 & 2" with a nice ascending background flourishes from the L.A. Philharmonic. Colin Meloy (Vocals,Guitar) seemed comfortable onstage as he worked hard as he engaged the massive Hollywood Bowl audience. The Decemberists perform engaging storytelling songs that blend elements of indie rock, folk, progressive rock and tinges of country. Their songs sounded excellent with the backing of the L.A. Philharmonic. The arrangements were done very tastefully to add different colors to the songs but not overtake the songs or distract from them. Colin could have performed the songs by himself on an acoustic guitar and the crowd would have generated the same response. Colin did have some problems with his Z amplifier before "Perfect Crime #2" and made up for his lack of guitar duties by dancing around on the crescent of the pool circle. I have to admit I chuckled a bit when I saw his guitar tech was wearing a Mastodon shirt. "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" was ironic and reminiscent of when Death Cab for Cutie plays "Why You'd Want To Live Here". Colin tapped into his inner boy when he asked the crowd to pull out their cell phones and illuminate the bowl. I took a picture of it, but I must say it was even more magical for those who were in attendance. The Decemberists wrapped up the show with a glorious version of "Chimbley Sweep" that had the audience clamoring for more.
The Decemberists Setlist for the Hollywood Bowl (7/7/07)
"The Crane Wife 1 & 2"
"We Both Go Down Together"
"The Perfect Crime #2"
"Los Angeles, I'm Yours"
"Tain (Parts i, ii, iii, iv, v)"
"I Was Meant For The Stage"