The Decemberists and Tennis
The Chicago Theatre // Chicago, IL // April 10, 2018
The Decemberists remind us why they’re one of the greatest folk rock bands out there.
The Chicago Theatre is one of the most beautiful and treasured venues in the city. It takes an exceptional band to play here, and The Decemberists certainly fit the bill. With the release of their eighth studio album, I’ll Be Your Girl, the band keeps their sound fresh and new while holding fast to their folk roots. Lead vocalist Colin Meloy has perfected his sound on this new album, teetering the line between somber and sarcastic when the mood is appropriate. For their Chicago performance, The Decemberists pulled out all the stops and played some of their new singles as well as their most treasured classics.
Tennis opened the evening as concert-goers started filing into their plush red seats. The husband-and-wife duo started making music in 2010 and released their newest album, Yours Conditionally, early last year. Singer/keyboardist Alaina Moore looked radiant in tight leather leggings, donning her classic Dirty Dancing hairstyle, and her voice sounded like a soft dream. She dedicated a song to her anxiety while her husband, guitarist Patrick Riley, played a 1970s melody guaranteed to make the audience swoon. Tennis sound like they’re either just going to sleep or just waking up, and it was a perfect way to start the evening for their Chicago fans.
The Decemberists put on an equally reflective and high-energy show, they’ve played The Chicago Theatre the last few times they’ve come to the city. Although it’s an amazing venue and offers some of the best acoustics in Chicago, there’s something restricting about watching the band while sitting down. Luckily, about halfway through the show, the audience got tired of being confined and stood up to dance, sway, and raise their phone lights high in the air. Meloy led the band in new songs like “Severed” and “Everything is Awful,” but they got the biggest applause for some of their oldest songs such as “O Valencia” and “Rox in the Box.”
The two biggest highlights came at the end of the show: first, Colin Meloy advised children in the audience to cover their ears, as many f-bombs would soon be dropped. The Decemberists then played “Ben Franklin’s Song,” a little ditty written by Lin Manuel-Miranda for Hamilton (although the song never made it into the play). “Do you know who the fuck I am? I am Poor-Richard’s-Almanack-writing Benjamin Fuckin’ Franklin!”
Finally, as the band came back onstage for their second encore, the crowd held their breath as the iconic accordion started up for “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.” This, of course, included a massive floating whale terrorizing the audience as the band lay on the stage, dead from the horrendous shipwreck that Meloy sang about. For those of you who have yet to see The Decemberists, I promise you: this 12-minute epic is worth the price of admission alone.
The Decemberists will be travelling all across the country throughout the spring and summer, making appearances at several festivals. For more information, click HERE.