How I got into THAT band: The Decemberists

In honor of #DecemberistsDay, TAM presents another installment in its series How I got into THAT Band.

One of the facts about my marriage is that my wife and I are perfect matches in almost every area… except musically. The old Osmond song “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N Roll” comes to mind when trying to explain the differences. Granted, in our version the title should perhaps be “A Little Bit Industrial, a Little Bit Hair Metal.” Our difference in musical tastes doesn’t change our love for each other, but it can lead to some interesting road trips.

All that said, every once in a while we do manage to synchronize our opinion on music. In 2006, one of these rare occurrences happened when my wife, Laurie, dragged me to a Decemberists concert at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. She had discovered the band while listening to college radio and when she found out that they would be playing locally, convinced me to take her to the show. Laurie couldn’t really describe what kind of music the band played and eventually settled upon a “kind of folk/rock” description. Of course, I was too obstinate to bother listening to the band in advance of the concert and instead used the opportunity to grouse about it.

When the night of the concert arrived and we were finally sitting in the balcony at The Tabernacle, I began to feel even more trepidation. The audience was filled with college students, including three young gentlemen dressed up as chimney sweeps. The opening bands did nothing to alleviate my concerns, as they were both ‘folky’ and did little to interest me. Eventually, The Decemberists took the stage and began performing selections from their album The Crane Wife. I watched and listened to the concert, absorbing it all and eventually found that my defenses had crumbled and I was paying rapt attention to each song.

 

At the end of the show, as we were walking out of the Tabernacle, Laurie asked me what I thought of the concert. I believe that my response was “They were very talented, musically.” I just couldn’t admit to her (or even myself) that I had actually enjoyed a band that she had introduced me to. However, for days after the concert I kept thinking about the band and their music. It had affected me somehow, but I was still hesitant to admit it. I finally swallowed my pride and borrowed her copies of The Decemberists CDs and listened to them during my daily commute. Within a few days, I was singing along to “Crane Wife” and I had to admit that they had won me over.

Laurie and I ended up seeing The Decemberists play at least two more times during that tour, including a performance at Chastain Park in which they were accompanied by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During the band’s tour in support of The Hazards of Love, Laurie and I drove to Athens, GA and found ourselves in the orchestra pit, two feet in front of the stage. I looked at her and said “This is amazing, but the thing that sucks is that we will never have seats this good again.”

To say that I have become a fan would be an understatement. Like with most things that I fall in love with, I throw everything that I can into my passion for the band. During the tour for The King is Dead, Laurie and I helped out the Capitol Music Street Team by putting up posters and seeded the internet with links to their music videos. For our time and dedication to the band, we were given two tickets to see them play at the Cobb Energy Center along with a framed photo of keyboardist Jenny Conlee that had been on display in an art gallery in New York.

Now, almost a decade since that first concert at The Tabernacle, I am listening to What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (read my review here) and eagerly awaiting The Decemberists’ two night return performance at The Tabernacle in April. Laurie opened my mind when she introduced me to The Decemberists, so she only has to blame herself for the fact that the new CD will be on loop in our car for the next few months.

I guess it is fitting that the romantic love of my life introduced me to one of my greatest musical loves.

What a Terrible World, What a Wonderful World is available now.

Tickets for The Decemberists at the Tabernacle are still available and can be purchased here for April 10 and here for April 11.