Thurs Jan 13, Triple Door, $14, 8 pm.
Whether it's the Scrabble-board scholastics or the English-lit theme lifting, you can bet that the reason people are so drawn to the Decemberists has a great deal to do with frontman and wordsmith Colin Meloy. Sure, the band's live presentation makes it impossible to ignore the theatrics--stage costumed whimsically, fancifully, ridiculously. But when it really comes down to it, what fuels the Decemberists' Victorian vision--a vision that has propelled the Portland band into the national spotlight--is less about their music's theater, and more plainly rooted in the clunky confines of language. Or more clearly: It's really all about the words.
It stands to reason, then, that the band's songs would be all the more effective in a stripped-down, solo acoustic setting--a notion on which Meloy is banking with his selective solo tour. "[The solo concept] grew out of these talks we were having with the guy from Dashboard Confessional," says Meloy, who is releasing a new Decemberists record this year. "[He] wanted to put together this solo tour with the two of us and another guy--which I know sounds really bizarre. I was a little leery about going out with Dashboard Confessional, even though that guy's really nice." Meloy backed out, instead booking a short West Coast run himself. "The first year I was in Portland," he explains, "pretty much all I did was play solo in small clubs, and this was an effort to come back to that."