...were great. And this time I actually got to see them with friends-- niwandajones
picked me up and we headed up to campus together. Shows are always so much more fun with friends!
Of the two opening acts, I dug the hell out of Loch Lomond
; they're Celtic-influenced indie folk/rock, and the music is just gorgeous. We missed the beginning of their set, but I liked what we caught so much that I picked up their new CD, Paper the Walls
. (And yes, niwanda, you can buy the albums digitally from their site.) I mean, come on, the opening track is called "Carl Sagan;" how can you not love that?
The Walkmen, on the other hand, suffered heavily from Loud Opening Band Syndrome (a malady affecting many opening bands; symptoms include insecurity and getting the sound guy to turn you up so much that no one can tell whether you're any good or not). It's not that they were really bad per se
, but I tend not to take LOBS-afflicted bands very seriously. At one point, niwanda pointed out that the lead singer had his guitar slung across his back, (post-shark-jump-)Bono-style, and I was all "oh man, if they ever put out any Joshua Tree tracks, I am so taking a spare GH guitar and doing that, or perhaps holding it up like I'm threatening to play it, but instead never actually touch the strum bar." At another, he questioned whether Bob Dylan or Geddy Lee was a more pernicious influence on the lead singer's vocal style. The answer was "Dylan trying to sing in Lee's range." Really, the man was a lyrical genius, but for the sake of all that is musical, DON'T TRY TO SOUND LIKE HIM. Even if it works, you will sound TERRIBLE, because Bob Dylan is NOT A GOOD SINGER.
Ah, but then The Decemberists came out, and Colin Meloy dazzled us all with his charm and his wit and his sore-throat induced "sexy voice" and his often disturbingly misogynist lyrics. I mean, he sounds like a really cool, very progressive kind of guy; has anyone suggested to him that maybe he has issues with women? He is happily married from what I've read-- has he just sublimated all his latent anger into his music or something? And yet I love even the songs I shouldn't. The track list for the evening included a couple of new songs, one entitled "Valerie Plame." For a guy with a cold, he was in top form, jumping around like a madman, half-scaling the ladder up to the lighting rig and singing a verse from mid-air, and going absolutely nuts on guitar on "The Perfect Crime." He also talked a couple of times about the current political situation-- how for the first time in, oh, eight years, he felt hopeful for the future of the country, how the youth actually turned out to vote, and saying "good fucking riddance" to the current administration. It went over quite well with the Cornell crowd. The final encore was "Sons and Daughters," which he said had been an escapist fantasy when it was written, but now felt more real, an anthem for the coming years of rebuilding the nation.
All in all, a highly enjoyable show, and I'm glad I got to share it with niwanda and narose, as well as our friends Aaron and Emilie and Jennifer and Peter.