The Decemberists Perform a Rock Opera



Fans of The Decemberists probably know that the band has recently released a new album, The Hazards of Love, which is being billed as a “Rock Opera.” No surprise coming from The Decemberists who have been evolving toward prog rock for a number of years now. It’s really a logical next step for the band. Basically the story is about a pair of doomed lovers cavorting in the woods and the troubles they run into with a forest queen and some other bad dude/creature. Very Decemberists.

Now of course something like this could be real cool or just plan awful, there is probably be no middle ground here. So I was interested when I heard that the Decemberists were going to play the entire album at South x Southwest last week. Knowing I wasn’t heading off to Austin, I did the next best thing and checked out the podcast of their show from NPR.

[Aside, have you checked out the NPR live concert podcasts? It rocks! There is a ton of good stuff they have available, including a ton from SxSW. Besides recent shows there is a Leonard Cohen show, Radiohead, a bunch of others, I’ll be back to see what else is there. Here’s the link.]
The thing with rock operas is that you need the words in front of you to get what the story is about so I was at a disadvantage right there. The Who’s Tommy is classic because it was recorded at that time when we all listened to albums. You could sit in your room with headphones going over the lyrics as the song played. (and yes if you lit a candle while listening to Tommy you would see your future). So I really can’t tell you how the story turns out in The Hazards of Love.

I can tell you however, that there are some cool songs here (some kinda of draggy ones too). It starts off slow but about a third of the way in, the band just connects. There are a couple of female vocals that are just wailers and one song where apparently there are 6 percussionists. Truly some heavy stuff here. The crowd, it appears is slow to warm up to what’s being presented to them, but by the end you can tell they were blown away.

I’m definitely going to look for the lyrics so that I can follow along because there appears to be some interesting music going on here. If you’re a Decemberists fan, there are some individual songs that you will undoubtedly like, rock opera or not. This however, will not be a big breakthrough effort by the band. But an interesting piece nonetheless.


Funny thing, a co-worker and I were just discussing the new Decemberists album. Then this post comes up the next day.

Of course that implies that I knew anything about it before our discussion. I didn't, but in the span of 24 hours I now own a copy of their latest album and have downloaded one of their concerts. Hooray for musical exploration, I guess.

Thanks for that podcast link though, Free. I also got 6 or 7 other concerts, I'm going to be busy this weekend trying to fit them all in.

Glad you enjoyed Big Mak. The Decemberists are a long way from NIN!

IMHO, The Decemberists are more of a song band than an album band (which they and fanboys/girls would probably disagree with). They have some real strong songs but then the album is ruined by a bunch of clunkers. Having said that if you want to scratch your Decemberists itch, I would go with Picaresque.

I also will be spending time this weekend with some concerts downloaded from NPR including that Radiohead show and Blitzen Trapper from SxSW.

Thanks for the NPR music link. That's great stuff, free.

The Decemberists are a long way from NIN!

This is true. On the other hand, with this new stuff, maybe I'll be able to put together a random 10 that's not made up of mostly NIN songs.

Hands down, Apple's app store wins by a mile. It's a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I'm not sure I'd want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your website is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a perfect web site.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on March 25, 2009 1:54 PM.

My Favorite Things -- March Madness was the previous entry in this blog.

The Sweet 16 Rocks! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.