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Summerfest scores big with The Decemberists

The Decemberists
Miller Lite Oasis (Summerfest 2016)
Milwaukee, WI
July 7, 2016
The Decemberists The Decemberists

Review and photos by Phil Bonyata

Summerfest, the self-proclaimed "biggest music festival in the world," hosted and is hosting some of the most amazing acts in music today. From Ray Lamontagne, Kris Kristofferson, Passion Pit & Alabama Shakes to Paul McCartney, Blink-182, Sting & Peter Gabriel none was anticipated more to this journalist as Portland natives and eternal brogues The Decemberists were. Their music is really like no other with lead singer and braintrust Colin Meloy's lyrics bursting with poignant imagery and twisted Victorian charm that weaves effortlessly through intricate and brash melodies. I've seen The Decemberists twice - the first time at The Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee and as one of the headliners at 2009's Lollapalooza in Chicago's beautiful Grant Park. The Pabst show was so jaw droppingly great that from that day on back in 2007 I was hooked for life and now declare that The Decemberists are one of the greatest rock bands of the last 25 years!

Their backdrop consisted of colorful Cubist/folk art images used for the cover art of their latest album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. Their ability to move from a new form of folk rock to a midtempo trot then to a bruising and jagged climax in one song are surely the work of a most peculiar and other-worldly magician and not by mere mortals. Meloy and bandmates Jenny Conlee - organs, Chris Funk - guitar & banjo and drummer John Moen wasted no time with their jaunty and playful interplay on stage and in song as witnessed early on in "July, July!" and "Calamity Song."

Meloy was ever the showman engaging the rapt audience with his sly wit and animated theatrics. Highlights of their too short set were the exquisitely laid and sinfully beautiful "Down by the Water" and capping off the evening in grand fashion with "The Mariner's Revenge Song." A tawny and almost spiraling out-of-control opus to two sailors living in the belly of a giant whale. If that doesn't pique your curiosity about this most original band than nothing will!
"A Beginning Song"
"July, July!"
"Calamity Song"
"Billy Liar"
"The Engine Driver"
"The Wrong Year"
"The Sporting Life"
"The Crane Wife 3"
"The Island: Come & See"/"The Landlord's Daughter"
/"You'll Not Feel The Drowning"
"Makes You Better"
"Rox in the Box"
"The Rake's Song"
"Down by the Water"
"O Valencia!"
"The Mariner's Revenge Song"

Related articles:

The Decemberists (Lollapalooza 2009) - Festival review - Grant Park, Chicago, IL - August 2009
The Decemberists / Blind Pilot - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - May 2009
Exclusive Interview with Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy - Apr. 2007
The Decemberists / My Brightest Diamond - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - Apr. 2007
CMJ Music Marathon (The Decemberists) - Concert review - New York, NY - Oct. 2006
The Decemberists - The Crane's Wife - CD review
The Decemberists - Her Majesty - CD review

The Decemberists The Decemberists
The Decemberists The Decemberists

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