With the opening of the highly anticipated new Bowery Presents venue Brooklyn Steel, the venue has locked in an impressive lineup of shows that have put them on the map in a big way. One of the first batch of shows for the venue – which holds about 1,800 people – features three sold out performances from The Decemberists, as a part of their “The Shuffling Off to Ragnarök” tour, which included Julien Baker as the opening act. We were in attendance for night two of the run on April 18.
Julien Baker (who was last saw almost a year ago exactly) has had quite the journey since releasing her acclaimed debut album Sprained Ankle in 2015. She’s been touring endlessly, selling out shows, and is now one of the latest signees to Matador Records. Now The Decemberists have welcomed her aboard a pretty big tour, introducing her to many new people, who are more than likely to become new fans of the ultra-talented Baker in no time.
Of course as the opening act, her setlist was an abbreviated one at a little under a half hour. Even so, she used every minute as a showcase of her talent, kicking things off with her debut single for Matador, “Funeral Pyre.” Along with select favorites from Sprained Ankle such as the title track and “Something,” Baker performed a new song entitled “Turn Out The Lights” that sounds every bit a continuation of what she gave us on her debut, powerfully moving and full of passion. Based on the great reaction from the faithful fans of The Decemberists, it’s only a matter of time before Baker is selling out Brooklyn Steel on her own.
It’s crazy to think just how long now that The Decemberists have been at it. Like many people, their true breakout release Picaresque was my introduction to the band. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since then. They’re now mainstays on the live circuit, able to handily sell out venues of their choosing.
Since the tour wasn’t in support of a new album (their last album was 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World) they gave a pretty well-balanced setlist borrowing from throughout their catalog. Along with old favorites like “The Gymnast, High Above Ground” and the 18-minute epic “The Tain,” they also gave us a glimpse into the future. They performed a catchy new number named “We All Die Young” as well as a song called “The Queen of Hearts,” that they played with Olivia Chaney, which is apparently taken from a new collaborative project between Chaney and the band, as frontman Colin Meloy explained introducing the song.
The 1-2 punch of The Decemberists and Julien Baker was a fantastic combo, and a great first to officially cover at the newly minted Brooklyn Steel. The first of many, I’m sure.
Find photos from both Julien Baker and The Decemberists performances posted below, along with the setlists.
Julien Baker Setlist:
1. Funeral Pyre
2. Sprained Ankle
5. Turn Out the Lights
The Decemberists Setlist:
1. The Crane Wife 3
2. The Island
3. Down by the Water
4. Lake Song
5. The Wrong Year
6. The Gymnast, High Above Ground
7. Los Angeles, I’m Yours
9. Bandit Queen
10. The Queen of Hearts (with
11. We All Die Young (New Song)
12. The Abduction of Margaret
13. The Queen’s Rebuke / The Crossing
14. Make You Better
15. This Is Why We Fight
16. The Tain
17. Dear Avery