SLC Twilight: The Decemberists

The Decemberists w/ Jake Xerxes Fussell & Marny Proudfit• August 11, 2022• Gallivan Center

Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

SLC Twilight

Twelve years after their first Twilight performance, The Decemberists returned to the Salt Lake Twilight Summer Concert Series. I was excited for the opportunity to join the many fans gathered at The Gallivan Center to see the Portland-based indie rock band. The Decemberists may have brought their hometown’s rainy weather along with them, but that didn’t stop everyone from having a great time. The concert was the band’s 5th stop on their Arise From the Bunkers tour. They were formed in Portland in 2000, and the band consists of Colin Meloy (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Funk (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), Jenny Conlee (piano, keyboards, accordion), Nate Query (bass), and John Moen (drums).

Marny Proudfit

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

Utah local singer-songwriter Marny Proudfit was the first opener for the night. I heard someone in the crowd mention they had seen her play at Kilby Court earlier this year. She had a beautiful voice and did a fantastic job getting the concert started. Her music was peaceful, and everyone who got to the Gallivan Center early enjoyed her songs. As she was singing, it was hard to ignore the storm clouds that were fast approaching. Bad Weather is always a risk with outdoor concerts, and we all hoped it wouldn’t interfere with the evening.

Jake Xerxes Fussell

Jake Xerxes Fussell was the next musician to take the stage. Fussell is a talented folk singer joining The Decemberists on their tour. His first song was a cover of the jazz song “Jump for Joy” by Duke Ellington. The rain started picking up as he continued with ” Push Boat” and “The River St. Johns.” The weather didn’t keep anyone from enjoying his set. Fussell’s music had strong traditional folk vibes and a little blues. I enjoyed his music, and I plan on listening to more of it in the future. By the time he ended, it was pouring rain, and the sky was dark.

Rain Delay

There was lightning in the distance, and the crowd was nervous that the show may be canceled. The stage crew stepped out to cover the equipment, and we were told there would be at least a 30-minute delay. I was surprised that everyone remained cheerful, laughing and tossing beach balls.  About 30 minutes later, the crowd cheered enthusiastically when the stage crew stepped out and removed the plastic covering from the musical equipment. This was a sign that the show would go on, and The Decemberists would soon take the stage.

The Decemberists

The rain and delay didn’t keep the audience from having a good time, and the band was welcomed by a large group of excited and eager fans. Lead singer Colin Meloy introduced his band, “We are The Decemberists from the rainy pacific northwest, and we have brought the rain for you, Salt Lake City. We are also going to play some music for you.” 

They started with “Leslie Anne Levine,” the first song from their first studio album Castaways and Cutouts. Their next song was “Suckers Prayer” from their most recent album, I’ll Be Your Girl. The crowd joined in on singing along with the catchy lyrics, and Colin stepped back for a moment to let the group take over the chorus. 

Colin Meloy told the crowd, “This is not the first time we have played one of these “Twilight Concert Series. We did one many years ago. That was the first time there was ever a mosh pit at a Decembrists concert. I think that show was free then, and it was a very different element that showed up for that show. Particularly in the pit. But honestly, if any of you want to cut the shit and start the pit, I will not stop you.”

+Despite the band’s permission to get a mosh pit started, the crowd would remain fairly mellow throughout the night as they sang and danced to the music. The rain had finally stopped, and the energy at the Gallivan center was incredible. I watched couples dancing together while enjoying the beautiful night. There were also many families there, and kids sat on their parent’s shoulders or danced around enjoying the concert. 

The Decembrists are one of those bands that are just as good, if not better when performing live. As they made their way through their set, I was mesmerized by Colin Meloy’s incredible vocals. He has such a beautiful and unique way of singing, and each of his bandmates proved they were equally as talented while accompanying him on their instruments. The band continued with “Rox in the Box,” “Lake Song,” and “Sporting Life.” They also played a new song, “Black Mariah.” I was excited to hear new music from them and loved every second of it.  

When The Decemberists performed “The Wanting Comes in Waves,” Lizzy Ellison stepped up to join in on vocals. The second she started to sing, she completely amazed the crowd. Her performance was flawless and powerful. Lizzy is joining the band on tour, and after finishing the song, Meloy referred to her as the sixth Decembrist. I thought her sound worked very well with the band, and I would be happy to see them collaborate again in the future. The next song up was one of my favorites, “Down By The Water,” from their 2011 The King is Dead album. Meloy started the song with his awe-inspiring harmonica playing. Throughout the song, he would play both the harmonica and guitar while still killing it on vocals.

I had been looking forward to hearing that song, and it was even better than I had expected. The Decemberists continued with “Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect,” “Make You Better,” “Severed,” and “California One” before saying good night and walking off stage. 

The Decemberists reappeared minutes later to an enthusiastic crowd for a three-song encore. They played another new song for the group called “William Fitzwilliam”. The crowd responded well to this new song. I think it’s one with which The Decemberists fans will fall in love. Meloy took a minute to explain their encore’s second song, saying, “It’s a history lesson, but I didn’t write these lyrics. So I’m not responsible for the vulgarity you are about to hear. Children present; however you may be scandalized, you may glean some historical facts to take with you. Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the lyrics to this song.” They then played “Ben Franklin’s Song,” which was written for the musical Hamilton but never made it into the musical.

Years ago, Lin Manuel Miranda approached The Decembrists and asked them to cover the song. They agreed, and the song is the first track on the album Hamilidrops. Like many of the songs from Hamilton, it was a lot of fun, and the lyrics were both educational and entertaining. 

The last song of the night was one that many in the audience had been waiting for. The crowd cheered as they began to play the familiar intro to “Sons and Daughters.” It’s a fan favorite song from their 2006 album The Crane Wife. Knowing the concert was coming to an end, the fans took the opportunity to really get into the last song, singing along and having a great time. The Gallivan center was filled with people who chose to stay out in the rain just to hear The Decemberists. I am positive they would all agree it was worth it. The Decembrists are excellent performers who put on an incredible show. If you ever have the opportunity to see them live, I would highly recommend it.

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