all words: Finch Fulton
all photos: Sandra Sanchez
Death Cab for Cutie, while, I guess, still technically considered an indie band, put on a stirring display of showmanship and skill that compares favorably with the very best live shows out there. They are touring until late October to show off their newest album Codes and Keys, however the band took care to bring back top songs from Transatlanticism and Plans to keep the show’s momentum throughout. Death Cab lived up to their strong reputation as a passionate band whose studio magic translates into excellent live performances.
The night began with the lyrically expressive Scottish indie-folk band, Frightened Rabbit. Throughout their set, lead singer Scott Hutchison’s accent was pleasant, but he was underwhelming as much was lost in translation. This is a shame, because their lyrics are meaningful and sincere. The band was at their best on stage when they were loud and commanding, instead of urging you to figure out exactly what it is they’re saying. They saved their best for last, rounding out with “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” and “My Backwards Walk.” They had apparently not intended to play “Keep Yourself Warm,” but did so after urging from the crowd and members of the headlining band.
As dusk settled in DCFC entered the sauna that was Merriweather, immediately jumping into recognizable crowd-pleasers “I Will Posses Your Heart” and “Crooked Teeth.” The band then moved to songs from their newest album, most notably “Grapevine Fires” and “You are a Tourist,” which highlight some of the best soulful features of the band.
As usual, frontman Ben Gibbard soaked up nearly all of the spotlight, with his indispensable voice alternating between his regular and echo microphones. While the rain let up before the show, Gibbard soon rained sweat all over his guitars and the stage, providing some interesting close up shots on the video board. Only about 3/4ths of the way through the show did Chris Walla add his vocals to make a welcomed transition into a featured role. Nicholas Harmer, the bassist, never really got his moment of attention, but not for a lack of movement or perspiration. Gibbard literally turned his back on the crowd to have a dueling drum session with Jason McGerr in order for the crowds attention to be fully drawn to the drummer’s ample talents.
The crowd reacted eagerly to even the tiniest provocations from the band, and sang favorites like “I Will Follow You into the Dark” along with Gibbard. The two hour performance by Death Cab on a sultry summer night was never lacking in enthusiasm or crowd enjoyment. It would be wise see the next Death Cab show while you still can, before they lose all remnants of their indie cred by creating a song too popular among parents, frat boys or teenage girls. Face it, it’s going to happen sooner or later.