On Tuesday, January 20, Portland’s indie darlings The Decemberists released What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, their first album in four years—prompting Mayor Charlie Hales to mark the day as “Decemberists Day” in our fair city.
Around noon, hordes of the band's fans packed the small atrium of downtown's City Hall, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ceremony. Mayor Hales kept his official Decemberists Day proclamation to the band short and sweet (which is worth a read in itself).
Before the band began to play, Meloy and crew unveiled a large Decemberists-themed quilt patched together from squares created by 50 Portland artists and small businesses with ties to the band. From artist Carson Ellis' embroidered Bandit Queen to ice-cream maker Salt & Straw's double-headed wolf, the backdrop for the set reinforced how deep the band's roots run here (and that Portland will always rally for a collaboative art project).
Following Hales's proclamation, Meloy began the three-song acoustic set by quietly cooing the new album's first single, titled “Make You Better.” At first, cheers interrupted Meloy’s singing; then Meloy launched into “Eli the Barrow Boy,” a crowd favorite, prompting audience-wide whispers along with the lyrics.
As the set closed with “Sons and Daughters,” Meloy glanced over the whole room, his gaze ending on the highest balconies as he beckoned for the audience to join in. Chanting “Here all the bombs fade away,” the volume building for a sweet conclusion to the ceremony: a packed City Hall atrium filled with music lovers singing in unison.
The Decemberists are on tour now in support of the album, but their show at the Keller Auditorium on March 21st is unfortunately sold out. Instead, pick up a copy of What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World and revel in its musical glory.
The Decemberists Quilt Contributors
Music Millennium | Showdeer/Chris Bigalke | Kinfolk Magazine | Pip’s Original Doughnuts | Collage | Kerns Kitchen | Marshall’s Haute Sauce | Eyes + Edge Blog | Bridge & Burn | Bombshell Vintage | MapleXO | Hair Of The Dog Brewery | Marmoset Music | Poler Outdoor | See See Moto & Coffee | Girls Rock Camp PDX | Salt & Straw Ice Cream | SE Wine Collective | Penner Ash Winery | ADX Collaborative Makerspace
Cassandra Frances | Nicole Georges | Kaysie Condron | Carson Ellis | Claire Harrison | Sara Starr Medici | Neil Perry/Antler Gallery | Susannah Kelly/Antler Gallery | Morgaine Faye | Jennifer Parks | Matt Linares | Laura Jean Graham | Jason Sturgill | Seann McKeel | Nancy Prior | Kate Bingaman-Burt | Chad Crouch | Melody Owen | Brad Adkins | Sherry Pendarvis | Mike King | Amy Ruppel | Brooke Weeber | Souther Salazar | Ashod Simonian | Khris Soden | Decemberists Album Cover and quilt constructed by Skye Blue