Saturday, November 1, 2008
Halloween with the Decemberists
If ever there were a band made to play Halloween concerts, that band would be the Decemberists. Hey, some kids dress up for their shows even when it's not Halloween. So when I learned that the Decemberists were playing on Halloween night, at Wheaton College, in a chapel ... well, it didn't take too much consideration for me to buy a ticket.
The show met my expectations. The band came out half an hour later than the ticket-listed time of 7:30, but there was no opener, so I'm not complaining. And what an entrance they made. Colin rode out (well, rode/was propelled out) on a big wheel, dressed as Danny Torrance from The Shining. John and Nate appeared next, dressed as the creepy twins. (Colin later remarked that this was probably the first time two cross-dressing men had ever stood on stage at Wheaton College.) They were followed by Jenny as Wendy Torrance, and Chris Funk in the role made famous by Jack Nicholson. Short movie scenes were reenacted, and the movie was brought up throughout the night. The band members weren't the only ones dressed up, of course. Costumes abounded in the crowd. My favorite was a woman who dressed as a crooked French Canadian complete with guts spilling out, and even brought along a a bottle of "gin." Later in the show Colin perched her little Canadian flag on his guitar.
Colin stated that they had crafted the setlist with an eye toward the spooky, and there was an abundance of songs about murders and ghosts. Then again, that could be said about the Decemberists' catalog in general. The show was also peppered with new songs. The ending of one in particular ("Days of Elaine?" "O New England?") may have been the most rocking thing I've ever seen the band do live. In fact, the whole show was probably the most energetic I've seen from the Decemberists. During "Culling of the Fold" Colin ran all over, climbed things, and eventually wound up writhing on the stage. He also stole someone's iPhone and sang a verse to the kid's mom.
After the show, the setlists went to a few incredibly eager kids. I thought a setlist from this show would be a fun souvenir, in part because I wanted to remember what all the new songs had been. I decided to try something that I had tried at another Decemberists show a few years ago. I was successful then, and I was successful this time, too. I passed by the soundboard at the back on my way out, and sure enough, nobody had thought about the setlist from up there. The sound man told me it was all mine. Excellent. I'll take a nice setlist over trick-or-treat candy any day.
-Shanty for the Arethusa
-Dracula's Daughter (may be out of order - request from the crowd - played in full; Colin directing the band through the second verse. Colin, "At last, with the full band treatment I'd always dreamed of. Now we should never play it again.")
-Leslie Anne Levine
-Bachelor and the Bride
-O' New England (nice Irish treatment on the setlist)
-Shankill Butchers (featuring Jenny Conlee on the Edman Chapel pipe organ)
-Culling of the Fold
-Days of Elaine
-16 Military Wives (with election-themed call and response)
-Record Year for Rain
-Perfect Crime #2 (breakdown featuring vocals from the creepy Shining twins)