Posted in music | pictures on June 15, 2011

photos by Jessica Amaya, words by Andrew Sacher

The Decemberists

I arrived a little late to Prospect Park last night (6/14) for the first Celebrate Brookln benefit show of the 2011 season and only caught the second half of Best Coast's 30 minute set. They handled the large venue well though, and I regret not being able to get there sooner. Not long after I entered the venue, it started raining and by the end of Best Coast's set, the audience was almost entirely covered by umbrellas.

It was still raining when The Decemberists took the stage for the sold out show. Jenny Conlee was unfortunately absent, but Colin Meloy dedicated a song to her and mentioned that Team Jenny merchandise was available, and that she is going to recover. The band was joined on stage by Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) on fiddle and vocals, like they were at Bonnaroo. Their fairly consistent set was pretty heavy on The King Is Dead material and a few older, yet equally accessible ones which made for a seemingly quick show. However, the band were able to sneak in a couple of the more explorative songs, including the borderline-sludge "Won't Want For Love" and the progressive-leaning "The Bagman's Gambit, without dragging the set.

The Decemberists

About halfway through the show, the rain completely stopped and Prospect Park's roof of umbrellas came down, revealing how packed the venue really was. Despite playing to such a huge crowd, Colin Meloy was as quirky as someone playing a backyard show (he did note that Eugene Mirman told him Prospect Park was literally his backyard). Colin prefaced "We Both Go Down Together" by telling us that they'd like to go into their joint-suicide material, made tons of whimsical jokes about the rain, and even choreographed an audience-wide school-choir styled hand dance. And even while performing much of the lighter Neil Young-meets-R.E.M. alt-country of the new album, he made it clear that he's still a rocker at heart (not unlike Neil Young, I mean, they don't call many folk singers the "godfather of grunge"). After getting our permission to go to a 'darker place,' Meloy asked that the stage be 'bathed in red,' and the band went into the dark intensity of "The Rake's Song." Chris Funk and Sara Watkins abandoned their usual instruments to drum along, forcing the song to hit even harder than it does on record.

The Decemberists ended their 15-song set with a King is Dead standout, "This is Why We Fight," and left momentarily before Colin and John Moen returned to the stage for the first encore to perform "Raincoat Song" together, but not before telling a story about John not being able to identify a Pink Floyd song playing in a Park Slope coffee shop earlier that day. It's unclear what coffee shop it was, but the story hilariously included a snotty barista and a reminder that John previously played Prospect Park with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (who announced a tour earlier that day).

John, who sang harmonies on the song ("Raincoat Song"), messed up a few lines but quickly covered it up by adding in lighthearted dialogue with Colin. After the song ended, John returned to his drums and the two were joined by the rest of the band for a cover of Fruit Bats' "When U Love Somebody." The encore ended with an elongated version of "The Chimbley Sweep," complete with the usual playfully dissonant "guitar duel" (as Colin referred to it) between him and Chris Funk, a Sara Watkins fiddle solo, and some slightly awkward crowd surfing on Colin's part (video below). The band contrasted the oddly epic end of their first encore by returning to the stage for the soft alluring "June Hymn". The almost-full moon in the sky, as Colin pointed out, added to the beauty of the surroundings.

Side note: Celebrate Brooklyn is now providing concessions with the help of The Farm on Adderley, rather than Two Boots, who have done it in the past. The new menu has four categories of food including food on a stick, on a bun, in a cup, and vegetable fry. Check out the full menu. (editor's note: I miss the corn and watermelon! And the food lines seem much longer now. Two Boots seemed to know how to move people along better. Maybe it will get better.)

More pictures from the show, the setlist and a video of Colin Meloy in the crowd below...

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Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

Best Coast

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

Colin Meloy in the crowd at Prospect Park

Setlist:
July, July!
Down By The Water
Calamity Song
Rise To Me
The Bagman's Gambit
We Both Go Down Together
Won't Want For Love (Margaret In The Taiga)
The Crane Wife 3
Don't Carry It All
All Arise!
Rox In The Box
The Rake's Song
O Valencia!
The Perfect Crime 2
This Is Why We Fight

Encore 1:
Raincoat Song
When U Love Somebody (Fruit Bats Cover)
The Chimbley Sweep

Encore 2:
June Hymn
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Comments (39)

Fantastic show. The rain wasn't all the bad and The Decemberists brought great energy. Jenny was sorely missed though.

Any chance Celebrate Brooklyn could expand the bathroom situation?

Posted by CJ | June 15, 2011 2:48 PM

Has Best Coast's drummer improved any since she was in Vivian Girls?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:52 PM

yes, she has 'improved' to a buck seventy five.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:53 PM

andrew sacher = brooklynvegan jr.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:55 PM

BV PLEASE SCREEN THE SEXIST PIG COMMENTERS FROM YOUR SITE. THE WOMEN OF INDIE ROCK IMPLORE YOU TO STOP THE HATE!

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:56 PM

Far from a fantastic show. A good show but then they always put on nothing less than a good show. 2:48 probably has not seen them that much. Beacon show earlier this year was much better. Rain did indeed suck until it passed. Jenny missing was a big missing.

And yes the bathroom situation was terrible.

Also, saw a number of people sneak in to the show. Not gonna say how they did it cause i am gonna use that method for Sufjan and Bon Iver.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:58 PM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:58 PM

is 2:56 Colin P Fitz?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:01 PM

@2:56 No I don't.

Posted by WOMEN OF INDIE ROCK | June 15, 2011 3:01 PM

A bad drummer is a bad drummer regardless of their sex.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:02 PM

"The new menu has four categories of food including food on a stick, on a bun, in a cup, and vegetable fry."

Can hummus come in any of these formats?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:05 PM

yeah and BV makes fun of fat dudes too.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:05 PM

2:58, Tell me how to sneak in and I'll be your best friend.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:07 PM

But I would walk 500 miles....

Posted by Smack | June 15, 2011 3:08 PM

Who brings an umbrella to a concert? Haven't people ever heard of a poncho? Even if you are too cheap to get a nice rain jacket, the dollar store has ponchos.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:09 PM

3:07, stop being a cheap skate. The bands depend on ticket sales to eat. Some more than others...

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:09 PM

3:07 no way. Celebrate Brooklyn people look at this site. Not gonna fuck up a good thing.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:11 PM

"John not being able to identify a Pink Floyd song playing in a Park Slope coffee shop earlier that day." -he mentioned later it was piper song and he said "ift didn't sound like a Pink Floyd song"- well yeah that would be the Syd era John.

"However, the band were able to sneak in a couple of the more explorative songs, including the borderline-sludge "Won't Want For Love" and the progressive-leaning "The Bagman's Gambit, without dragging the set."

What are you Jann Wenner and don't consider explorative and progressive leaning songs good rock music. It amazes me that in a time when a good portion of indie rock has mixed punk, classic rock, 80's dance, psychedelic, prog and several other genres together its still the prog portion that gets uncredited and mocked.

Posted by give prog its due | June 15, 2011 3:16 PM

Sorry 3:09, not all of us make $70k s year.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:20 PM

it was a fun show, not the best i've ever seen them but they always put on a good show, was cool to hear 'The Bagman's Gambit' and 'We Both Go Down Together'! And the new stuff sounded great. Rain was a bummer but what can you do! Jenny was missed but her health is more important! Love this band, a great night.

But yea, I didn't need them (thank god!) but the bathroom situation is horrible this year, don't remember it being so awful in years past!?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:29 PM

3:20, the ticket was $35. You don't need to make $70k a year to go.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:30 PM

To protest the bathroom situation everyone should empty their bowels on the lawn. Maybe then they can add a couple more porta-potties.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:41 PM

You most certainly don't need to make 70k. I don't make that and I go to plenty of shows

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:42 PM

2:56, I take it you're a fat chick who types in ALL CAPS?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:47 PM

It is not that I don't have the money, It simply FEELS better when you steal something than when you pay for it. Hard to explain...you guys know what i'm talking about, right?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:52 PM

3:52 is a degenerate :(

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:28 PM

the bathroom situation was absurd, the lines were so damn long. this wasn't a problem last few years.

special fuck you to the douchebags playing frisbee hitting multiple people and near missing even more. you aren't being cute or whimsical, you're being cunts.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:46 PM

Please, can everyone stop giving Best Coast any reasons to be a band. They suck soooo bad. It's embarrassing.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 5:02 PM

imagine... a world... where ponchos... were made.... of HUMMUS

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 5:04 PM

Actually the hummus was the only thing you could purchase because the line at the 'snack bar' was reasonable and that's all they sold. I waited in line from the time Best Coast started until Decemberists started and STILL didn't get to the main food counter. Unbelievable.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 6:41 PM

4:28 has guilty conscience syndrome.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 7:33 PM

I had a great time but thank God I went to the bathroom just before the show. The rain was pretty freezing in my opinion but The Decemberists made up for it. I tried really hard to give Best Coast a chance but I thought that they were pretty terrible.

Colin mentioned every place in New York but the Bronx, which I was tempted to call out at the time. We love you in the BX too!

Posted by Nicole | June 15, 2011 7:41 PM

I thought both bands were fantastic, but it was definitely an awkward clash of styles. I just happen to like both.

The bathroom and food lines are definitely a big problem this year. They've clearly been trying to cut corners all around with more benefit shows and higher priced (and more limited) memberships.

Posted by 10SecondsOfHell | June 15, 2011 8:49 PM

Was the lady in red there?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 9:17 PM

Zzzzzzzzzz.......

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 9:54 PM

there is no hummus on the menu

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 1:31 AM

"Colin mentioned every place in New York but the Bronx..."

Smehow I'm not surprised at something like this.

Also, every time I've been to Prospect Park, every line was always super long. Same thing with Central Park shows too. Hope this year has some improvements.

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 10:13 AM

"Colin mentioned every place in New York but the Bronx..."

he didn't mention staten island either but did mention westchester.

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 12:43 PM

I enjoy stealin'. It's as simple as that.

Posted by P. Farrell | June 16, 2011 1:46 PM

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