The Decemberists and Mountain Man: A Sea Salt Pine Cone Taste

Last night saw my triumphant return to the Uptown Theater in Kansas City as well as my return to actually attending concerts.  My lovely girlfriend wanted an experience for Christmas and instead of an overnight stay at a bed & breakfast, I opted for The Decemberists with Mountain Man.  My tired body watched the spectacle from up top and I have to say that the show went as expected, sans some annoying concert goers.

Mountain Man opened up and after listening to the preview from Back to Rockville, I was hoping for some dudes to jam out Fleet Foxes style.  Little did I know that three young ladies popped onto the stage and harmonized the set away.   They were from California but the tones were reminiscent of some deep south country harmony.  It was like the Flying Burrito Brothers’ version of the sirens from O Brother, Where Are Thou?  The set was pretty tight, except for some miscues and a couple of rowdy fans.  More on that later.

The main attraction of the night was The Decemberists.  Colin Meloy and company are out and about supporting their latest effort, “The King is Dead.”  This was my first time seeing them in action and I’m coming away with mixed feelings.  Some of their music is great and the others are just kind of filler.  The show was a little less filler and more show.  Colin’s stage antics saw him getting the crowd screaming like a whale to hanging out with a family up on the balcony.  He busted his ass off.

The quality of the set suffered from it, however.  Colin even took a second to mention that they messed up a two chord song.  Yeah, that’s pretty funny but it’s also kind of lame.  That didn’t stop the Decemberists.  What the set lacked in keeping things together was forgiven by most of the audience participation.  It was getting overused toward the end but after the second encore, it was all worth it.  Or maybe the problem was some of the crowd.

From the Mountain Men to the The Decemberists, some of the audience were just getting lippy.   I’m thinking that because the Mountain Men were mainly a capella, the a couple of the patrons felt like they could get away with derailing them.  It worked a few times but I figured it would stop by the The Decemberists set.  I was wrong.  Although, I didn’t expect Colin to be as playful as he ended up being.  So, yeah, the crowd harshed my buzz for a bit, even though I was away from them and up in the balcony.

Crowd aside, The Decemberists music put me in a sea-faring mood.  The alt country feel from earlier carried onto this set.  I couldn’t help but think of the harmonies that Buffalo Springfield or CSNY put on when the Mountain Men were up.  The vision of Neil Young singing ‘Old Man’ popped into my head while Colin was signing ‘Down by the Water.’  It was like the life story of Neil Young.  But later on, the show took that vision and dashed it against the rocks.

The broken pieces of the shiply Crazy Horse washed on the shore of Flogging Molly beach, all sticky from the salt of Oregonian maritime folk songs.  Colin’s heavily articulate voice made damn sure we understood what tales he had left in the treasure chest that sunk to the bottom.  The perfect storm of The Decemberists at the Uptown left a lot of destruction both on the stage and in the crowd.  I’m lucky, and happy, to survive.