The roving departmental happy hour at the Nickerson St. Saloon for a double birthday (Carolyn and Betsy) end of quarter type celebration. The good part about the Nickerson was that it was a non-smoking venue. The bad part was that a large man kept looking at us disapprovingly for reconfiguring the tables, taking extra chairs and generally taking over the main room. You'd think that this "lots of people here to eat and drink" would be a good thing, but it mostly turned into the waitress ignoring us.
The other minor downfall of the evening was that west coast television is not keen on playing Michigan State basketball; so I had to resort to looking at the tiny scoreboards in the corner to see that MSU was slightly behind for most of the first half.
Eventually, it was time to leave to catch a bus to go to watch the Decemberists at the Showbox. The very slow wireless web was able to tell me the MSU took the lead during the bus ride, but it wasn't until I went into the Green Room to wait for Amber that I found out that they actually won the game. Neat.
After a while, Amber and the mothers of twins club arrived. Just in time to catch the last song of the opening band and to secure a great spot in the middle of the Teenage Makeout Section of the crowd. Close to the stage, in the zone where the kids sit on the floor between acts. Some of them stand to read their books because it's the only way to capitalize on the available ambient light. This zone was apparently not close to the Wizardy / Renaissance Faire section of the crowd and was far away from the Bar zone.
The reason that I'm writing about the crowd dynamics is that a good show from the Decemberists is practically a foregone conclusion. I've seen them so many times and they continue to put on great performances. This time, they took the stage in matching costumes with newish bandmates (including the incredibly charming Petra Haden). There was also the matter of the borrowed (tags still attached) instruments since all of their uninsured gear was stolen, yet on went the show in high style.