Maybe it’s just the fact that there’s trees around. It certainly can’t be the uncomfortable Astroturf over concrete. Whatever it is, Central Park SummerStage seems to bring out the uninhibited kid in New Yorkers.
It was earlier this week, before the rain (although it threatened to dampen spirits) and steam explosions and we were all there to have a good time at Rumsey Field. After Land of Talk left the stage and Grizzly Bear did their hippie gay thing (really we needed a little more patchouli and maybe some ‘shrooms to make all of that work), the sun began to set and The Decemberists came out. It’s still surprising that Colin Meloy has managed to turn wordy songs with references to vagabonds, pirates and literary nomenclature into such a crowd pleaser, but it works. And much of the credit goes to the band’s enthusiasm and unpretentious nature on stage. They seem to be happy to be up there and enjoy putting on a rollicking performance.
But during the encore, when he managed to put everyone “to sleep”—starting with the band, who literally collapsed on the stage—and convinced the hundreds to also cop a squat on that unforgiving turf during “The Chimbley Sweep,” Meloy’s true charisma and power were fully realized.
It was one of those crazy moments that people tell their friends about later. “You should have been there, everyone really got down on the ground!” But those moments don’t have to be rare. Tomorrow night Neko Case takes over the same stage for a free show, and even when she’s not with her New Porno pals, she knows how to have a good time. But we’ll just have to wait and see if she gets the kiddies walking around in circles til they’re crazy during “The Tigers Have Spoken.” We can hope, can’t we?
Photos courtesy of Jonny-Leather