Friday, July 20, 2007

The Decemberists love Wheat Thins

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2007 at 6:48 PM

There are some things in this world that were simply made for each other. Peanut butter and jelly. Sonny and Cher (umm …). Optimus Prime and the Autobots. Celebrities and the paparazzi. Optimus Prime and the paparazzi. The Decemberists and the ASO.

Last Saturday night, amid the cries of a gradually filling Chastain Park Amphitheater, two of these great forces met head-to-head and fulfilled that natural bond. Indie-pop sensation the Decemberists and the classical sensation that is the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra joined forces, drawing together the two unique though complementary genres to create something exceptional.

The band appeared on stage promptly at 8 p.m., situating itself in front of the orchestra. And while I despised myself for being a cheap-ass and not opting for tickets where I might actually see something, the music began and all the self-deprecating inner dialogue dispersed.

The evening spanned the band’s entire musical repertoire — from Castaways and Cutouts to The Crane Wife — each selection endowed with a fierce and vibrant energy, revealing aspects of the music that don’t quite become noticeable until you hear the Decemberists play with a nationally renowned symphony.

And while every song played throughout the course of the evening was certainly memorable, the band’s rendition of The Tain — a nearly 20-minute beautiful monster of an EP from 2005 — featured Jenny Conlee hacking down the keys of the organ and wailing with her dulcimer vocals while Colin Meloy retired to the drum set. And the orchestra behind, simply in vibrations with energy, lights ablaze and heads spinning, was nothing short of breathtaking.

Just on a personal note, I’m going to say that if you weren’t there you might want to castrate yourself.

Music aside, the showmanship of Meloy made the show all the better. From his feelings on snack crackers (“Wheat Thins can solve a lot of problems. … so many flavors”), to his wishing a 94-year-old man a happy birthday, Meloy created an atmosphere that welcomed everyone — regardless of their social class, style of dress or music preference.

This show offered fans the inner workings of the more classical aspects of the Decemberists’ music, showing off the genius behind the orchestration. And it was brilliant.

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