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Published:April 7th, 2007 05:15 EST
The Decemberists in Nashville

The Decemberists in Nashville

By Jessica Baird

Inventive lyrics and innovative musicality have made The Decemberists one of the most refreshing bands in recent years. With critical acclaim and loyal fan base in tow, the indie rock favorites wowed a sold out crowd in Nashville last week.

“We play a wide variety of our songs. There are lots of sing-a-longs, and lots of zaniness,” said Jenny Conlee, multi-instrumentalist of The Decemberists, in a pre-show interview.

The self-described ‘zaniness’ is due in part to the epic lyrical landscape on songs such as “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” off the album Picaresque which was released in 2005. Colin Meloy, frontman and lyricist in The Decemberists, typically writes from a character’s point of view. This take on songwriting helps to make each Decemberists’ song a short story, and each album an unforgettable tale.

“He feels really comfortable [dealing with] dramatic characters,” Conlee said. “He enjoys taking a character and exploring it.”

“The Mariner’s Revenge Song” served as the finale during the group’s stint in Music City. The opening lyrics to the nearly nine-minute song set a scene for two mariner’s meeting in the most unusual of places.

“Our ship’s soul survivors, in this belly of a whale…I guess we’ve got some time to kill,” Meloy sings. With Meloy urging the crowd to ‘scream like you’re being attacked by a whale,’ the audience readily obliged. Swaying in unison from side-to-side, clapping and singing along to this one-of-a-kind sea chantey, the entire crowd showed they are happily on board The Decemberists’ ship.

This adoration prompted one audience member to say, “It’s like I’m at church camp,” after Meloy persuaded the entire audience to sit down and then stand again in a roar of shrieks and applause.

The appreciation was not one-sided, with Meloy calling the audience “sweet and kind,” and Nashville a “miraculous city.” About half way through the show, the group was joined by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, two of Music City’s most celebrated musicians. The duo, along with The Decemberists, played the title track from Welch’s release “Look at Miss Ohio.”

Another show highlight came courtesy of the band’s most recent single, “O Valencia!” off their latest release, The Crane Wife. The snappy, dance worthy tune tells the story of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Musically the song is a perfect pop confection. However, with lyrics such as, “With your blood still warm on the ground, Valencia, I’ll burn this whole city down,” the song can only belong to a band as unique as The Decemberists.

Thanks to pushing musical boundaries, a devoted fan base and unforgettable live performances, The Decemberists’ ship shows no sign of sinking.