Rockscope - The Decemberists Lottery Show w/ Laura Veirs - September 21, 2009 - New York, NY
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The Decemberists Lottery Show w/ Laura Veirs

September 21, 2009 - New York, NY

By Amanda Hatfield

The Decemberists @ Terminal 5 - New York, NY - September 19, 2009 - Photos by Amanda Hatfield

Last month, The Decemberists sent out an email with the following show announcement:

...we Decemberists will perform a set that will be entirely left to the hands of fate -- we will draw songs from a lottery and dutifully play them, regardless of their quality or presence in our memory. Decemberists songs, naturally, but you do never know what bizarre cover songs or strange commands may end up in the pile.
The show happened this past Saturday at Terminal 5 in New York, and we sent Amanda Hatfield to the show to gather photographic evidence.

Words from Amanda:
The premise for this show was that in a glaring oversight, they had a free day, so they decided to do this Lottery Show. There was no setlist; instead, John Wesley Harding acted as Master of Ceremonies, pulling balls with songs or actions written on them (as he called them, the Great Balls of Diablos!) from a big lotto spinner hung with silver streamers on the side of the stage.

Having John Wesley Harding run the show was a brilliant move - he brought just the right touch of the dramatic to the proceedings. What could've easily turned into a rather silly novelty act (pick songs at random! Have sound guys crowd surf to a waltz!) remained what, I imagine, it was originally intended as: a lovely evening tailor especially for hardcore fans.

We shot the first two songs, which turned out to be fan favorites Yankee Bayonet (with opener Laura Veirs adding backing vocals) and July, July! I had hoped for one of their longer epics early on for more shooting time, but those wouldn't come up until later in the show: The Decemberists went into proggier territory with all three parts of The Island, and their stunning, twenty minute long epic based on Celtic mythology, The Tain (which was a personal highlight for me).

Another particular highlight was Colin Meloy writing a new song and playing it on the spot. It started out with him standing on the stage at Terminal 5, touched on the miracle Hudson River plane landing, and ended with a confession of his having stolen something from the Empire State Building gift shop a long time ago. Meloy is a consummate showman; when he sings "I was meant for the stage," you believe every word.
Click here for more photos of the show!

Laura Veirs