By now, The Decemberists has its musical formula down pat: Fanciful, story-telling lyrics sung by an off-kilter voice, played over multi-instrumental folk-inspired music. It's a unique theatrical combination that has helped make Colin Meloy's band one of the biggest things to come out of Portland since the Nike Air Jordan. But it's a formula that can be aped and -- in the case of fellow Portlanders Loch Lomond -- improved upon. The brainchild of falsetto-voiced Ritchie Young, the six-plus members of Loch Lomond takes their self-proclaimed mantle of an "old world folk ensemble" seriously. The band boasts between two and nine vocalists on every track off 2007's Paper the Walls -- an album that offers songs about love, loss and legendary astronomer Carl Sagan. While Young's ensemble is the opening act for Meloy's on this nationwide tour, it won't be long before Loch Lomond's quiet, expansive instrumentals push the Decemberists out of the limelight and off center stage.
Sun., Nov. 30, 8 p.m., 2008