When the Decemberists took the stage the night of St. Patrick's Day at the Crystal Ballroom, fans learned that a trailer packed with nearly every piece of the band's equipment had been stolen from outside a house near the Aladdin Theater. And this is no guitar-bass-drums skeleton crew; there's also the accordion, the banjo, the dulcimer, the mandolin....
The Decemberists got back to Portland after a gig in Eugene and parked the trailer about 3 am Thursday. Later that morning, no more trailer. Police found it in Clackamas, minus $40,000 worth of instruments and equipment, plus a good chunk of the band's merchandise.
The trailer had been sitting empty in the same spot for a week before the Eugene show. "In my opinion, we were targeted," says Decemberists road manager "Kong." "These guys were pros."
The loss was immense, but so was the outpouring of help from Lea Krueger, the Shins, the Dandy Warhols and other musicians. The Martin Guitar Company offered 6- and 12-string guitars on permanent loan.
And the band played on. Lead singer Colin Meloy told the Crystal crowd it was a shame to have gear stolen in your hometown but lauded fellow musicians for helping out. The band played a full set using instruments from opening act Okkervil River. The next night they played in Seattle, though they postponed a Saturday show in Vancouver, B.C., in order to regroup.
Fans of the Decemberists' folksy, yarn-spinning music were outraged by the theft. On the band's online message board, normally docile posters were in favor of castration for the perpetrators.
The band posted a stolen-gear list on its website (www.decemberists.com) and asked fans to be on the lookout.