Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - The Beer Choice of Innovative Musicians

Last Sunday i had an experience that i will not soon forget. I was at The Pageant in St. Louis. I was 8 feet below and about 20 feet back from the edge of the stage. Blind Pilot came up and played. I was happy to find another band from Portland that i can explore later. It was a combination of bluegrass and indie rock. The lead singer wore a pearl snap short-sleeved western shirt, there was an electric xylophone player, and a girl who plunked on a banjo and danced a little.
The lights died. Out came 6 people to take their positions in front of a meager yet depth enhancing backdrop. The people around me screamed and so did i. The Decemberists have been a band i appreciated for some time now but this was my first time to see them. Colin Meloy made his way out in a full suit and he wasn't half-assing the tie either, he had the top button in place. He nonchalantly placed his beer on a back speaker and as he moved forward, a ray of light like a God's golden ray spot-lighted the bottle. Sierra Nevada if you please.
I don't know why he chose it. Maybe the selection is poor. St. Louis has some good brews, but usually you feel like someone is trying to cram Bud down your throat. Maybe it's the beer that fit best with the music we would hear; i'd like to think Meloy is that intentional with all that he does. If the other members are the Pinky, Meloy is the Brain.
If you haven't heard their newest album, The Hazards of Love, then you've been sittin' on an Ozarkian hill thinking you are somebody with Everest looming behind you ass! I have listened to the album straight through countless times and i believe without any fear of rebuke that it is the best album i have heard in at least 5 years, probably more. From genius lyrics, to creative storytelling, to a 17 song composition with no stops, to perfectly placed musical transitions paralleling and enhancing the emotions of the characters, who by the way, are also sung by Meloy and 2 new women (1 from My Brightest Diamond, and 1 from Lavender Diamond) whose voices beautifully express the intended character personalities, to some fucking awesome rock which i have never heard from this band until now, to 20 + instrument changes during the set by Meloy alone, to..........................................the list goes on.
The Decemberists walked out and played the album from start to finish. They did not say a word. An hour went by and they were done with it. They took a 15 minute break and then came back to play for another hour and a half of old stuff as well as a fantastic cover of "Crazy on You" by Heart. The female vocalists as new additions gave me goosy bumps in places i'd rather not mention.
I went home with my mind made up to buy Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to celebrate the victory which i had no part of creating but fantasized taking part in for over 2 hours. When i arrived at the store, however, Boulevard's Single-wide IPA was cheaper and i bought it and it was good. I'm drinking one right now.
I hope Colin and the crew can forgive me. Maybe if i drink more SN Pale Ale i can write and play and sing like him. Maybe he is trying to take over the world one Baker at a time. But, the Brain never did really get anywhere. Eventually he was cancelled. it's a shame.


  1. i like everything about this post, particularly how you pined for sierra nevada pale and went home with some single-wide. that was my favorite part.

  2. Isn't Neko Case in that band? She has red hair, and her voice gives me goose all places.

  3. No, she is not in that band, she is in The New Pornographers...but I enjoy her solo of only two lady singers I have on my music device (Patty Griffin being the other).

  4. That sounded like I am prejudice against "lady singers." I aint, just have trouble finding one's I like. I think I am talking to myself anyway...