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The Decemberists played what may be their last show in the area for a while last night. Here’s what I learned about frontman and songwriter Colin Meloy.
Colin Meloy will not be pigeonholed on the matter of beverages: There were some pretty banal observations made, on the Merriweather Post’s Twitter vanity board and by some people standing near me, about the preponderance of “hipsters” at the show. True, Meloy and his cohort do fit some parts of a certain stereotype: They are from Portland, they have facial hair, they play a lot of funny-looking string instruments, they dress with a sort of anachronistic formality considered purposefully eccentric by contemporary standards, and they drop a lot of obscure literary refs. So it may have surprised some of these smarmy people-sorters that Meloy, early in the show, declared the mojito—a tropical, syrupy, anti-flannel Island cocktail—to be “the official drink of summer 2011.” I’m sure the haters chalked it up to irony.
Colin Meloy is a Twihard: Midway through the set, the Decemberists frontman played “Dracula’s Daughter,” a song he has described as the worst he’s ever written. It goes something like this:
Has got it bad
You think you’ve got it bad?
Try having Dracula for your dad
Meloy prefaced the diddy by explaining that he had “desperately” submitted it for the soundtrack to each of the Twilight films — alas, in vain. Fair to say that he was being ironic that time.
Colin Meloy has memorized Martin Scorcese’s 1978 concert film The Last Waltz: Or at least the part during “It Makes No Difference” when Band guitarist Robbie Robertson shows some panache by quivering his pick hand in the air after a particularly sexy solo note (see 3:30). Meloy simulated the gesture during an intentionally haphazard solo on during “The Perfect Crime #2”—then copped to it in an aside, to the immense pleasure of pseudo-esotericists such as yours truly.
Colin Meloy’s guitar is a more graceful crowd-surfer than he is: After descending into the crowd and moshing with the floor section during the first encore set, Meloy sent his guitar back to the stage on a bed of hands. He then followed somewhat awkwardly in suit, pitching and rolling a bit, a member of the security heaving him over the gap separating the front row barrier and the stage.
Colin Meloy hates Michelle Bachmann more than Rick Santorum: As the Decemberists took the stage in Maryland, a gaggle of Republican presidential hopefuls were doing the dozens in New Hampshire—including Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, and Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator/sodomy-related neologism. Both earned unflattering dedications: to Santorum, Meloy dedicated “The Chimbley Sweep,” a song about vengeful urchin whom not even a mother could love; to Bachmann, Meloy offered licensing rights for “Calamity Song,” an apocalyptic vision of the collapse of civilization, suggesting that it might make a good anthem for Bachmann’s presidential campaign. Meloy is obviously not a fan of either candidate, but the implication seems to be that Santorum is wrathful but ultimately impotent, while a Bachmann presidency could portend the End Times.