The Decemberists

ACL Live Shots

The Decemberists

Oct. 3, Zilker Park

The Decemberists stood in the misty October rain and with orchestral grace bestowed upon Austin its second performance this year of The Hazards of Love. The überliterate folk-rock quintet from Portland, Ore., presented its tour de force at South by Southwest in March, but a summer of touring made its presentation a seamless, enthralling production. The story's inherent drama and head Decemberist Colin Meloy's love of wordplay ("the prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone") suited the night-darkened sky, backlit on the stage in jewel tones. His faux-Brit accenting fit the tale's narrative as Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond sang with sweet soprano the role of the hapless maiden Margaret. More compelling was Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, singing the Queen. Her confident alto elicited a roar from the crowd as she damned the hero with a mighty "Consider the debt repaid!" All but Meloy thundered on percussion during "The Rake's Song," the closest The Hazards of Love comes to radio-friendly. What more could anyone want? Well, maybe the full concert performance, the kind of show that delivers not only the complete The Hazards of Love but dream encores like Stark and Worden's take on Heart's "Crazy on You." That didn't happen, but for ACL Fest, the Decemberists provided a crowning achievement nevertheless.

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