Don't really have anything terribly clever to say about the Decemberists show last night, other than restating the simple fact that I love them and am so happy to be alive and in my concert-attending mid-twenties while they're out doing their thing, which they do better than pretty much anyone else.
New drummer John Moen, of Malkmus's Jicks, while possessing perhaps a less fluid sense of rhythm and style than dearly departed Rachel Blumberg, is nonetheless an impressive and powerful player, a worthy addition to the band. And, was probably the most entertaining person on stage last night. His antics during "The Mariner's Revenge Song"--sitting on the floor, generally thrashing about, then running increasingly sloppy circles around the tom that he was beating with a mallet and a tambourine--were hilarious until I realized, with a growing sense of awe, "holy fuck, he hasn't missed a single beat in the midst of all this nonsense."
In stark contrast to openers Okkervil River, who seemed to have a million people on stage, none of whom were doing much of importance, every single member of the Decemberists is totally integral to the sound and the success of the band. Nate Query's skills on the upright bass make me weak in the knees; Chris Funk wields his impressive arsenal of instruments with a Zen-like effortlessness; if Jenny Conlee's accordion did not exist, it would be absolutely imperative to invent it; Petra Haden's violin gently heightens the drama of the narratives and her vocal stylings fill the harmony hole left by Blumberg's departure; and Mr. Meloy is, well, we all know my high, high regard for his talents. "The Engine Driver" may well be one of the best songs he's written yet, with "On the Bus Mall" running a close second.
It was a great night of great songs and great energy and great feelings. Oh, and did I mention they played the entire fucking Tain as an encore? It's one of those things that just makes me want to pass out every time I hear it, it's so huge and so good.
In other Decemberists news, Colin posted a note on the official site today, giving updated details on the Great Instrument Recovery Effort of Aught Five and giving thanks for the monetary donations that have rolled in after the theft, and Pitchfork announced that the Decemberists will be part of the lineup for the inaugural Intonation Music Festival in Chicago this summer.
I'm also turning into one of those limited edition silkscreen concert poster people, and purchased a gorgeous one last night designed and printed by Ryan Nole at Kangaroo Press. Rawk.
EDIT: My sources (read: grad students) have informed me that Moen was actually sick as a dog during the show that night. He, apparently, went directly to the hotel after the show rather than hanging out at the afterparty where Jenny and Chris were spinning from their iPods. Dude, somebody get that motherfucker some vitamin C or Pepto Bismol or something and let me know when he's better--I want to see what he's capable of then.