The Decmberists are Possibly the Best Live Band in America

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I really do think that the above statement might be true. But I can't be sure. But after seeing them this Saturday night I may be able to confirm it. I'm gonna go catch them at the Uptown Theater with several hundred of my new close friends. I've been waiting on this show for a while and have been preparing by closely studying setlists and bootleg recordings.

And they're quite possibly the only band that can get me interested in Kate Bush, Joanna Newsome and Cheap Trick. Actually, I'm pretty sure they are.

Bridges and Balloons (Joanna Newsom Cover)
Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect (Live on KCRW)
Shiny (Live)
Wuthering Heights (Kate Bush Cover)
Southern Girls (Live) (Cheap Trick Cover)

From a Colin Meloy solo show:
The Apology Song (Live)

And quite possibly the best b-side in the history of b-sides:
Culling of the Fold

Official Site
Myspace Page

And download all the live Decemberists music you want at the Live Music Archive:


Review:Day On the Hill

Saturday was the day - the Day on the Hill, that is.
So that means I've been sitting on this for 5 days now. The review is long overdue...

First off, the weather was cold, the ground was super muddy and the sun was ducking in and out of the clouds. There had been talk about snow, but that all managed to hold off.

Perhaps the weather was the reason why, but when the Roseline took the stage, there was less than 50 of us there. They had been scheduled to start up at 12:30, but when that time came The Faint were still soundchecking. So the Roseline started up at about 1 o'clock. The music was immediately engaging. The harmonies were spot on, the rhythm section sounded amazing. Unfortunately, the big gigantic empty tent made the vocals as muddy as the ground we were standing in, but it was still wonderful. However, due to the late start, the band was only allowed to play three songs. The band obviously wasn't thrilled about that, and neither was the small crowd, but there was nothing to be done about that. They are definitely on my "must see" list, and since they got away before I could buy a CD, I tracked one down at the best record store in the midwest, The Love Garden, before heading back home that evening.

Between sets (except between G. Love's and the Faint's, during which we were bombarded by the same Fugees track for an hour...literally) there was a DJ in the back spinning some classic funk records out of a milk crate on some fancy turntables. I don't know if I recognized a single song, but if I could get ahold of that playlist I would.

Next up was Pomeroy. I'd seen a fragment of a set of theirs a few years ago, but they didn't play a single one of those songs in their short set. We did get some funky beats, fancy percussion and a long-haired headbanging keyboard player. I don't dance but even I can appreciate some great butt shakin' music and that's exactly what Pomeroy's music is for. Front man David Fairbanks' rapid fire vocals didn't seem to go over well with the majority of the crowd, but I had me a good ole time.

Next was G. Love and Special Sauce. By this time, the tent was starting to get full - not uncomfortably croweded, but nice and full. And folks were loving it. There were hippies in tie-dyed t-shirts dancing with their bare feet in the mud. There were heads bobbin', people bouncing up and down and even some mud slingin'. Garret pulled out some of the classics, several from the last album and even a tease of "Gin 'n' Juice." Most major props of the show go to Jimmy Jazz, the upright bass player. I was amazed at his skill and ability to jump off into crazy riffs without losing the groove of the song.

And finally came The Faint. I have heard mixed reviews of their live shows, but was uncharacteristically optimistic. And they were great. By this time, there was no grass left up front at all, so those of us who wanted up front just sunk down, got stuck and danced in the mud. And outside of one of the new songs, the first song of the encore (a strange choice to start the encore if you ask me...), no one stopped dancing at all. The almost sinister aspects to some of their songs were lost in the bright light of late afternoon and the video projections were nearly impossible to see, so it just kinda boiled down to a muddy dance party with great music. The new songs blended right in (except for the one) and the songs from "Danse Macabre" really stood out the strongest in the setlist.

P.S. - If you're looking for the mp3s and links, they're all in the last post. Just scroll down a bit.


Day On The Hill

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Day On The Hill is a tradition at Kansas University. Down at the end of the year the Student Union Activities (SUA) throws a big concert out on the hill in front of the Lied Center on the KU campus for the students and some friends too.
It's usually been focused on alternative acts including Toad the Wet Sprocket, Pearl Jam, Gin Blossoms, They Might Be Giants, Soul Coughing and local boys (and girl) The Anniversary. The tradition stopped in 2002 to be revived again in 2006 with a line-up boasting Spoon, Ghosty and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. It seems like a good time was had by all and so its back again this year.

This year's list is two local bands, a great alt-country band The Roseline and white boy hip-hoppers Pomeroy and two great touring acts: G. Love and Special Sauce and The Faint.
It's looking like it might be bad weather, and frankly I don't know how that bodes for the day, but pending a few things I'm getting my butt out there. I've been dying to see The Faint live for a while, and a big party in Lawrence sounds like a great way to blow a Saturday afternoon.

As always, Saddle Creek is quite generous with mp3's from the Faint, which really span their career well:
I Disappear
Wet From Birth
Agenda Suicide
Glass Danse
Call Call
Worked Up So Sexual
Some Incriminating Photographs
Typing: 1974-2048

A couple from G. Love's site:
Rhyme For the Summertime
Blues Music

Tres from the Roseline:
Shakin' Shorts
Busy House

And dos from Pomeroy's live record "Cocoon Club":
Summer Night


ANOTHER Covers Day!? You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me!

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First picture that came up when I google'd "Cover Day"

Erin Bode - Graceland (Paul Simon Cover)
I owe the discovery of Erin to the man behind the blog "There Stands the Glass". This is less of a cover, more of a total reworking. If Norah Jones had covered this song, it would probably sound more like this. But I'm sure Erin is tired of hearing that by now. And I don't think Norah would have had the gall to cover this one. By the time you get to "human trampoline" you're all caught up and hate the fact that the track has to end.

The Decemberists with Lavender Diamond - Feel Like Making Love (Bad Company Cover)
Come on soundguy! Turn Becky's mic up! There's just something great about hearing Colin Meloy singing this song that made my ears perk up. I think the crowd is a bit more into it then the bands are, but it's still good listening.

Will Ferrel and the Channel 4 News Team - Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band Cover)
My second favorite moment in the movie "Anchorman" (after the gang fight) was when Will and the boys delivered an acapella rendtion of "Afternoon Delight". Unfortunately, this isn't quite that version, but its still got their vocals over top of full instrumentation. Pretty funny if you ask me.

Mark Ronson with the Daptone Horns - God Put a Smile Upon Your Face (Coldplay Cover)
This track comes from what has quickly become one of my favorite albums of the year, "Version". But more on that later. This cover replaces Chris Martin's vocals with some slick horn playing and some funky break beats. Maybe its just the fact that I'm a fellow horn player, but I love hearing the brass blaring away. Next time I dj a party this one may be on the docket.

Ben Folds - Such Great Hights (Postal Service Cover)
This isn't the webrip copy that we've all heard and loved, but instead this is from Ben's DVD "Live at Myspace". Yes, that myspace. And you have to watch the video to see the guitar orchestra and the ringtone orchestra. And like ther person in the comments on the video, I'm wondering exactly when Ben started to look like Elvis Costello...