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The Decemberists In Concert

It was a bold move: Introduce the world to your ambitious concept record by performing it in its entirety to a national audience, a week before the CD release. On March 20, The Decemberists did just that, performing The Hazards of Love from start to finish in front of a restless, mildly inebriated, industry-intensive crowd at the SXSW music festival and conference in Austin, Texas. About 10 minutes into the slow build that characterizes the record, I stood in the crowd and worried that it might have been a really bad move.

I love The Hazards of Love, which I'd heard about 10 times by the time I was in the crowd at Stubb's in Austin. Not many in the crowd knew the music that was coming, with all the powerful guitars and guest vocals and toweringly epic rock songs. So that slow build had the crowd fidgeting — until, that is, the band unleashed songs like "A Bower Scene," not to mention the incredible performance by My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden in "The Wanting Comes in Waves" and the six drummers who propel "The Rake's Song."

These six videos were all shot at that premiere performance of The Hazards of Love — all are beautifully shot and wonderfully recorded. So put on some headphones and enjoy six magnificent moments from the show. It's a lovely snapshot of history, not to mention a perfect companion to what many will call the best CD of 2009.

Hear The Full Decemberists Concert From SXSW 2009

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