The Decemberists, with Barack Obama

A hip rock band that features the Soviet national anthem and communist-inspired lyrics was on stage to open for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at his record-breaking Portland, Ore., rally that attracted 75,000.

The Decemberists, a Portland-based group with a large local following, also closed the May 18 event.

The Decemberists typically begin their concerts with a Russian-language recording of the USSR’s national anthem.

A YouTube video shows the Decemberists beginning an April 31, 2007, concert at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., with the anthem.

“Decemberists” refers to an uprising at Senate Square in St. Petersburg Dec. 14, 1825, when a group of Russian army officers led about 3,000 soldiers in protest as Nicholas I assumed the throne, after Czar Alexander died without an heir.

The Decemberists have posed for publicity photos in period Russian costumes with the red flag of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 waving behind them.

Robert Knight, director of the Culture & Media Institute at the Media Research Center in Alexandria, Va., thought the concert contributed to Obama’s large draw, and he chastised mainstream media for not reporting that.

“How many of the people showed up to hear Obama, and how many to hear the band?” Knight asked.

Jason Linkins, political reporter at Huffington Post, objected, claiming the Decemberists are a relatively unknown independent folk-rock group that plays small clubs at local Portland nightclubs.

But the band has appeared on national television, on the David Letterman show Nov. 28, 2006 and on the Colbert Report, Dec. 20, 2006.

The Decemberists released their fourth album, “The Crane Wife,” Oct. 3, 2006.

What remains undisputed is the group’s pro-communist image and their open support of Obama, a point made by National Review blogger Jim Geraghty.

The Decemberists website shows photographs of Obama casually posing with the band members outside a tent set up for the candidate and the band at the Mall along the Willamette River in downtown Portland. shows close-up photographs of the band playing for the rally.

In a YouTube video, Decemberist lead singer Colin Meloy endorsed Barack Obama in an unfinished song with communist-style lyrics that begin, “Barack Obama. Alas, Barack Obama. His prophetic luminescence, it will shatter the putrescence and complacency of the bourgeoisie. …”

During the 2005 campaign, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry drew 50,000 people to a rally at Portland’s waterfront park with the assistance of rock star Jon Bon Jovi and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.


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