My inner college-student had a big weekend. I had a house party, took a couple naps, ate some ramen noodles and (most importantly for our purposes today) saw Death Cab for Cutie live in concert. And while the first three made me feel pathetic and old, that last one still felt just right â€“ the one habit from college that you donâ€™t have to be ashamed of.
Having recently released their 7th studio album, â€˜Codes and Keysâ€™, Death Cab is on tour again and for the first leg of the US tour, theyâ€™re playing some pretty tiny venues. Paradise Rock Club in Allston, MA holds slightly less than 1000 people and if you were fortunate to get a ticket to this show (no easy feat) then you know how packed it was. They say â€˜standing room onlyâ€™ but there was barely even room for that.
After everyone was finally inside (Will call-only show. Donâ€™t get me started. The lines were insane.), there was a palpable tension running through the crowd. There was still that pre-show buzz but it seemed more anxious. When the lights went out it was as if everyone let out a breath they didnâ€™t know theyâ€™d been holding and thenâ€¦they just went nuts. No nonsense and no messing around, the Washington-based quartet kicked things off with three rapid-fire hits, â€˜Your Bruiseâ€™, â€˜New Yearâ€™ and â€˜We Laugh Indoorsâ€™ with nary a pause in between. The crowd sang along to every word as Ben Gibbardâ€™s boy-next-door voice lead the way through an enormous and varied set. The band played a 25-song set that, even though theyâ€™re promoting a new album, spanned their deep catalogue.
If you werenâ€™t already dancing along, Nick Harmerâ€™s bass on â€˜Crooked Teethâ€™ and Jason McGerrâ€™s drums on â€˜Long Divisionâ€™ and â€˜Cathâ€™ were sure to reach out and make you. If a band can have a pulse, these guys are it and you could feel it all throughout the venue. While Iâ€™m sad that they couldnâ€™t play â€˜I Will Possess Your Heartâ€™ in all of itâ€™s eight minute glory, they more than made up for it with gorgeous performances of â€˜Grapevine Firesâ€™ and â€˜I Will Follow You into the Darkâ€™. Iâ€™ve heard a crowd sing along before but never have I heard a crowd actually harmonize with the singers. They took the high to Gibbardâ€™s low and it actually made the understated performance even more perfect.
The rest of the set powered on in perfect sonic fashion with â€˜Title Trackâ€™, â€˜You Are a Touristâ€™, â€˜405â€™ and â€˜Title and Registrationâ€™ but the real highlights for me were the last few songs of the set. While it had seemed like Gibbard had finally lulled the crowd into a trance, the opening notes of â€˜Soul Meets Bodyâ€™ and â€˜Sound of Settlingâ€™ broke them out of it. At choice points they were just as loud as the band and even after the guys walked off the stage they continued their noisy chorus until the band obliged with an encore. â€˜Stay Young, Go Dancingâ€™, â€˜Styrofoamâ€™ and â€˜A Movie Script Endingâ€™ were all well and good (understatement) but I couldnâ€™t wait for what I knew was coming: â€˜Transatlanticismâ€™. This song is easily my favorite and a perfect way to end a set â€“ starting slow and building up to a perfect crescendo of that pleading refrain.
Normally when a band has a new album out, their concerts can get real boring real fast. Everyone wants to hear their faves â€“ not just the new stuff. DCFC does a fantastic job and sets the example for how itâ€™s done. I couldnâ€™t have chosen a better setlist and to see them in such a small venue was an incredible treat. In a few hours Iâ€™ll be at work, back in the real world, in my 24-year-old life and Iâ€™ll be thinking about this show and how for a few hours I got to be a college kid again. Itâ€™s good to know for future reference however: who needs a time machine when you have Ben Gibbard?