Monday, July 09, 2007

All It Takes is a Little Harp- The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, and Band of Horses @ the Hollywood Bowl July 7, 2007

Sorry about the pun. I thought of it while watching the Decemberists' set and it stuck. They did have a harp playing, along with all the other wonderful instruments that make up the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Tonight was my inaugural night this summer for attending the Bowl, and it did not disappoint in the least.

I'd recommend a box seat if you can when going to the Hollywood Bowl. You get a table, so while you're trying to be all fancy drinking your wine out of clear plastic Solo cups, you can put out a cheese spread and not have it all go in your lap. Pretty sweet. Oh, and the view's not so bad either, well, up until it gets dark it's kinda fuzzy, cause they don't turn the t.v.s on till then so Band of Horses is just a bunch of guys with beards and no other distinguishing characteristics, except perhaps that one guy had a much longer beard than anything else.

All three of the bands tonight I've never seen live before. I've wanted to... it's just that opportunities have come and gone and I always miss the boat. While it was still light out, Band of Horses was up first, and yeah, pretty much every guy up there was all beards and apparently no faces. I was a little wary of their performance going in, I was told they could be spotty, but tonight I really didn't have much to complain about. They had more guys on stage apparently then they usually do, so it was a better sound live, especially for the Bowl, which, unless you're a full-on orchestra, your band tends to sound a little distant with all that space around. I guess my only complaint would be that they tended not to move around much on stage, but I guess playing at such a venue as this would make dancing around kinda odd- unless they're always like that in which case they need to lighten up a bit. Anyways, they played several tunes off "Everything All the Time", including Great Salt Lake, Monsters, and, of course, the Funeral. They played one new tune and a cover, neither of which I can recall, but if you point your mouse to You Set the Scene, you can get a little more info on songs covered.

Next to the stage was Andrew Bird, who, admittedly, I didn't know was more popular than Band of Horses. I while back (like, several years) I was given a copy of The Mysterious Production of Eggs and found it both fascinating and delightful. But then I don't remember hearing anything else by him until recently while watching t.v. there was a hotel commercial with a song of his playing in the background. He put out a new album this year which is supposed to be on everyone's top 10 list so I feel it my duty to check this out. Anyways, Bird and two other guys played however you would have sworn it was a dozen had you not been looking at the stage. They make full use of delays to create some amazing layered songs that seemed insane to me that they were able to do it all and make everything in time. Behind Bird was this quite large double gramophone thing that would twirl like crazy when they would play; it was really hypnotizing and made me a little dizzy when I watched it on the big screens.

I feel like this post is starting to get too long, and I let it sit for enough time for everyone else out there to have written a review, and possible much more comprehensive than this. But, I will say that having an orchestra back the Decemberists was probably one of the smarter things for them to do. However, never having seen them live before this I could be very wrong on that. Regardless, I found the two a perfect match. Highlights for me being that they played a couple tracks off of Picaresque which is hands down my favorite by them, and when Colin Meloy decided to prance about attempting to do an air guitar solo on the crescent wall that surrounds the pit in front of the stage I realized they're much more lighthearted than their 18th century suicide characters portray. One thing I found funny was in listening to the lyrics to "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" and seeing the crowds reaction. Now, I am familiar with the lyrics and their somewhat biting review of the city I live in, but whatever, it's a catchy tune. However, seeing a crowd cheer on the song every time he sung the city's name, I'm pretty sure not all these folks were quite listening to what was being said. Anyways, they did come out for an encore- "The Chimbley Sweep" which, when I saw the accordion was hoping it the Mariner's Revenge Song, but no. Then again, maybe not everyone would have enjoyed an 8+ minute song about whales and killing some seedy guy.

Overall I was quite pleased with everyone's performance tonight and hope that all of them on their own come back for much more intimate shows. Except for the Decemberists, who I am quite aware that I missed my chance for intimate performances from them for many years to come. Oh, and I took some shots of the show, however it was with a "real" camera so I need to get my ass down to the developers; in the meantime enjoy some generic shots.


handling olympus said...

this looks like a cool blog. i'm just cruising thru right now and i'll bookmark and come back later to read more.
God bless.

elana said...


Justin said...

I just found out my company's new assistant has a cousin who is Andrew Bird's drummer!

elana said...

God, so many people with only like, one degree of separation from me were on that stage that night. The following day I met someone at a party who is a percussionist with the LA Phil and played with the Decemberists, and at that same party, someone's cousin (I think that's what the relation was) was the guitar roadie for the band. Craziness.