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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Decemberists, Prospect Park Bandshell 6.14.11

Granted, headed into NYC for work early yesterday, back out to pick up daughter, then right back in, this time over both the Hudson and East Rivers, is not an ideal Tuesday.  But, I am alive to write about it.  Furthermore, I find myself having fond thoughts of the experience. 

Only a few miles from the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge lies Prospect Park.  Surrounded by the very quaint brownstones of Park Slope I am already itching to get back.  It might have something to do with the driving rain that accompanied most of the show.  Thinking I need a weather do-over.  Rain or shine shows are dangerous going in.  You roll the dice for sure.  Nevermind I left (2) umbrellas in the car!!!  I really hate umbrellas.  Seems they are more cumbersome than effective.  Ask me how many times I was drenched with umbrella spill off last night?  Consequently I was soaked and really could tell you very little about opening act Best Coast.  They are a trio.  2 of the 3 are women.  Their sound was something like happier Runaways meets, as my sister observed, the Pixies.  Lots of similar sounding riffs and lead singer/guitarist  Bethany Cosentino has a fine, powerful voice.  Maybe I am a bit down on them cause they are LA folks calling themselves Best Coast.  Tough to swallow that if you're from Jersey.  Even if I am from the Jersey with cornfields. 

We were all more concerned with getting to the headliners to pay them much attention.  I guess the fact that I was not blown away tells you all you need to know.

Big props for the Mrs for sourcing some cardboard from the recyling area to provide dry (at least for a moment) seating.  Amazing really...  I knew for months this was an outdoor show and failed to a) have a blanket packed b) have proper raingear c) give a damn.  It is a concert, deal with any and all conditions or stay home.

As Colin Meloy and the his fellow Decemberists took the stage (a full half hour after Best Coast:  Not cool!!!) we took shelter under a tree.  The rain let up for most of their set.  All very much worth it from that point on.  Thanks to Twitter and the band I have an entire playlist!! 

July, July!
Down by the Water *
Calamity Song *
...Rise to Me *
The Bagman's Gambit
We Both Go Down Together
Won't Want for Love (Margaret In The Taiga)
The Crane Wife 3
Don't Carry It All *
All Arise! *
Rox in the Box *
The Rake's Song
O Valencia!
The Perfect Crime #2
This Is Why We Fight *
--
Raincoat Song
When U Love Somebody
The Chimbley Sweep
--
June Hymn


Playing this leg of the tour without keyboardist/vocalist Jenny Conlee did not slow down the Portland, OR band.  Conlee is currently battling breast cancer.  For more on her story check this out:  http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/05/the_decemberists_jenny_conlee.html.  I am fully aware this is an all or nothing band for most.  I dragged my sister and a friend along in the rain as more a cruel joke than anything.  Somehow took some weird satisfaction that they were both out of their element and (GASP!) rain.  Meloy brings the BIG nasally voice and most of their set was Alt Country at its finest.  Pedal Steel twang was the choice instrument of the evening.  That speaks to their latest release, the REM influenced "The King is Dead."  Peter Buck plays on 3 of that album's tracks and only 3 of the 10 tracks were not played last night (* next to them on playlist.)

Meloy got a nice laugh from the leftist crowd inviting Michelle Bachman to use "Calamity Song" for any and all of her campaigns.  Highlights included a sparkling instrumental jam on"The Crane Wife 3" and a pitch perfect rendition of one of my new favorites, "This is Why We Fight."  This is a well polished, smart and talented group of performers.  Not for everyone?  You bet.  Maybe too much new material for a New York crowd?  Possible.  We sorely missed "16 Military Wives" and "Sons and Daughters" from last nights performance. 

Next time perhaps.  Thinking inside and smaller might better suit their talents too.  Judging from the few shows I have seen you could tell Conlee was missed too.  They bring a nice full sound, but it was not quite as full.   Get well soon Jenny! 

Some notes on the venue:  Concession stand was run by The Farm on Adderly:  http://www.thefarmonadderley.com/  Good, good stuff and super healthy.  I did some research and this is a relatively new Brooklyn organic co-op of sorts.  It is both restaurant and caterer.  Instead of crap fried food we were instead offered fruit, hummus and maybe the best granola I ever had.  Insert cliche here:  granola eating hipster at granola band concert.  Whatever.  I accept your scorn (crying on the inside.)

Bathroom facilities were super limited.  The lines were unreal 1 song into the Decemberists set.  Good thing the beer selection was poor.  And no liquor.  Smoking of all kinds was permissable even with the NYPD very much present.

Street parking was near impossible but there is a nice garage on 11th 1 block south of Prospect Park West.  $24 was very reasonable I thought. 

There are only 5 "Benefit" concerts during the summer season.  Proceeds from those events go back to Brooklyn and the park, I am told.  The rest of the schedule is totally free.  I am hoping to get back as I see Cut/Copy and Foster the People play there August 11.  Sufjan Stevens is making an appearence too.  Plenty of kid friendly stuff too so I am mapping out the Brooklyn day for the family.  Take a look at the schedule and see if something fits.   http://www.bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn/2011-season

Here is a map of the park itself.  Very nice indeed:  http://www.prospectpark.org/visit/interactive_map

Again, good to be away from ordinary.  Hoping to do it again real soon.

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