Two firsts last night: First time at the gorgeous Fox Theater in Oakland and first time seeing The Decemberists. Both exceeded my expectations.
The Fox is a beautiful and comfortable enough venue to warrant a trip no matter who is playing:
I can't speak highly enough about this place. The concourses are spacious, there are plenty of concession stands (being able to take beer into the theater was an unexpected surprise), and the seats were more comfortable than most office chairs. Plus, it looks like a museum or a place to see opera--definitely a nice change from the flop houses and gin joints I'm used to.
As for the music, I was happy to finally see this band with Rachel, who has long been a fanatic. We didn't know what to expect after listening to the NPR podcast of their performance at SXSW. I figured there was a chance they would play the new album, Hazards of Love, but I wasn't really ready for it when it happened.
The whole first set was basically a rock opera, full of seamless segues and instrument changes. The tone of the songs changed from lighter country to almost heavy metal and somehow managed to all make sense. What an ambitious undertaking for a band almost always primarily described as "literate."
My only wish was that I was down on the floor, so I could have started head banging and bowling over the hipsters who were mostly standing there with their arms crossed, but alas, we had decent balcony seats. The tight jeans crowd was spared my wrath for at least one more night.
Full review from the Mercury News.