Follow These Directions to The Decemberists’ Secret Show

(Looking wistful helps.)

We freaked when a little bird told us The Decemberists were throwing a free, secret show, because we are not used to talking birds (technically, it was a man cursed to live as a jackdaw by a cunning sorceress—but you get the picture). After we calmed down, we knew we had to share all the inside info with our loyal readers.

Here’s how to score tickets:                                                                                                   

1) Lace your traveler’s boots and hit the New England coastline. The Decemberists have flung a hundred handblown glass bottles into the churning waves of the Atlantic. The tickets are inside those bottles. All you have to do is wander the lonely, gray beaches and rocks (looking wistful helps) until you snag one. If that bottle is lodged in the eye of a bleaching whale skull, JACKPOT. Those are backstage passes, baby.

2) Unfurl the vellum scroll inside the bottle, preferably in a nearby lighthouse. On one side is the barcode you’ll need to show the door person. On the other side is a map with no key and a couplet that ends with the words “find Compass Rose.”

3) Compass roses are those fancy circles on maps that tell you which way is North. Compass Rose is also the name of a woman who can tell you which way is North. But where to find her? According to the scroll, Rose has a single blue left eye and wears pools of black gossamer, so try Craigslist missed connections.

“If you die at this point, The Decemberists will write an affecting song to be played at your funeral. There will be banjo.”

4) If you’ve tracked down Compass Rose, congratulations! But she’ll only work in exchange for a piece of a memory. In practical terms, this is usually some kind of trinket that has emotional significance. If you don’t have anything like that on you, find a nearby memento ATM.

5) Once your map is complete, you’ll find that it points to a place that time has not yet reached, accessible only by steam train. Get on the train. Inside one of the boxcars, a vagabond will invite you to share his fire. If you offer him pavlova and wine (don’t overthink this), he’ll sing you a lament with a voice like a miller’s river. Pay attention. You’ll be doing the harmonies.

6) If you can nail the song’s bridge, the steam engine will start to slow. That’s where you jump. Is jumping off a moving train super dangerous? Yes, but please know if you die at this point, The Decemberists will write an affecting song to be played at your funeral. There will be banjo.

7) Did you survive your leap into the dark and through time? Find the nearest glade. If you don’t know how to find a glade, maybe you don’t deserve to be at this show. At the entrance to the glade, you’ll be welcomed by a woman in a tree, branches twining ’round her arms and fruit on her lips. She’ll scan your ticket. FL

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