Audible Musings

Decemberists Rock, Incompetent Techies Don’t
June 11, 2009, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So last night (wednesday night), I saw The Decemberists at Radio City Music Hall in nyc. To begin with, Radio City is an interesting venue just because of the size. From where I was seated, the band looked tiny, and at a Decemberists concert, one doesn’t nod their head in their seat. One gets up and dances! Alas, at Radio City, assigned seats prevented that. Also, the shape of the hall is terrible for that kind of sound. Because the hall is more or less a sideways rectangle as opposed to a legnthwise rectangle, a lot of the sound wound up muddled or lost in the giant wings. Better suited to classical music or professional singers. Less suited to a stereo band. Also, if I were to give the sound guys a grade, it would have to be F. The sound was terribly unbalanced. Colin’s acoustic and electric guitars were always too forward, and his voice was far too loud. The rythem guitarist’s guitar, as well as the keys, were far too low. Similarly, all of the vocal harmonies were so low you could hardly tell there was any harmony. You could hear Becky Stark’s voice well, just because she has a terifficly powerful tone. However, for a more delicate voice like that of Shara Worden, the sound was just not amped enough. It became hard to hear her, and the treble was a bit much. At times, it almost sounded like she was less accomplished than she was. Finally, the drums were much too low. There was no bottom to the sound! Dissapointing, considering Radio City is such a hallowed hall.

Aside from the failures of the sound team, the band themselves put on a fantastic show. The album is very musically challanging, and clearly the band was well rehearsed. They would not have been able to pull off any of the transitions as well as they did without extensive rehearsal time. It showed. The one thing the techies did get right, it seemed, was the switching of instruments quickly in and out. from 12 string acoustics to mandolins, they got everything to the stage in time to make the album flow from beginning to end just like on the record, but with that special live touch. Although some of the more difficult transitions were a little shaky, it was, in the end, entirely forgivable as the band performed their acts with mastery, and, when it seemed appropriate, simply rocked the fuck out. Props to them for filling the gigantic stage with that kind of liveliness.

In the end, though, the band literally played through the album from top to bottom and that was all. I thought, sitting there listening to the beautiful pedal steel solos weaving in and out of the closing track, “The Drowned,” that they would probably come back and play a second set of older material and fill out the concert. But at the end, Colin simply said thank you and have a good night, and the house lights came on. A little dissapointing to pay 45 dollars and hear an hours worth of music.

Despite that fact, for what the band did do, they were fantastic. Even while fighting through terrible eq, they managed to put on a good, old fashioned rock show, and have what seemed like a lot of fun in the process. Nothing beats a good, well-rehearsed band that can perform at that high level. The musicianship is always able to shine through, and this show was no different.


1 Comment so far
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They didn't do a second set? Shiiiiit.

Comment by Bastille

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