Death Cab For Cutie | The Audio Perv
Posts Tagged ‘Death Cab For Cutie’
27 Jul

By Matt Arena

Drawing the festival to a close, Sunday at Firefly Festival’s inaugural weekend did so in a spectacular fashion. With bands that ranged from unstoppable dancing machines to more relaxed indie acts, there’s no doubt that the final day had a little something for everybody.


Putting themselves in the self described genre of “disco dust” (more of a parody on the recent obsession of band’s having to categorize their sound), Reptar are anything but your average band. Their quickly growing reputation as one of the most energetic live acts precedes them, and having recently just seen them on tour with Grouplove, it’s a worthy title. But their Firefly set was on another level. Playing an early 1:00pm slot and with the sun on their side, a rarity over the course of the weekend, they definitely played one of the wildest sets of the day. Right out of the gate guitarist Jace Bartet came out dancing like a man possessed, as we would later learn he pulls the ferocious dancing power from his cutoff camouflage shorts. Add to that lead singer Graham Ulicny’s penchant for never staying in one place for more than five seconds, and it’s pretty easy to see how the crowd could become so enraptured with the band. Much like my first introduction to the band, many were there simply because of Reptar’s reputation and recent tour with fellow Firefly artists Grouplove. No more than 2 minutes into the set and almost the entirely of the crowd was dancing and jumping just as crazily as the band on stage. The set comprised mostly of songs off the band’s debut album, ‘Body Faucet,’ the pop-rock-Caribbean-indie genre bending mash-up of sounds came off incredibly well. It’s no wonder the band classifies themselves as “disco dust,” it’s really the only thing that makes sense after seeing a Reptar show. Tracks like ‘Sebastian’ and especially ‘Please Don’t Kill Me,’ as the frenzied island-rock drumming all but forced the crowd to move their feet. During any given Reptar song it seems as if there are a thousand different things occurring on-stage, so all you can really do is just brace yourself and allow the music to take you. Definitely living up to their ever-growing reputation as one of the most energetic live bands, the only thing on anyone’s mind after a Reptar set is this; disco dust. See them and it’ll make sense to you too.


Up immediately after Reptar was Red Bull Records pioneers, AWOLNATION. Being the main driving force behind the energy drink’s new venture into the music industry, they’ve grown pretty rapidly since the release of their debut album Megalithic Symphony a little over a year ago. Their unique blend of electronic rock, a refreshing true blend of the two styles, and their ability to put on an amazing live show has helped them establish a strong enough fan base to have headlined multiple tours already. Lead singer Aaron Bruno has made it a festival set regular to crowd surf toward the end of the set. Quite literally. As in he actually gets on a surfboard, balances himself, and surfs above the supporting arms of the crowd. His raspy, growling vocal style sounds great on record and surprisingly is even stronger on stage. Bruno’s really able to showcase this on ‘Sail,’ one of the band’s biggest and best songs. Making multiple trips into the crowd, allowing them to scream the “blame in on my A.D.D.” line (which is possibly the best scream-along line EVER) into the mic, there’s a real connection between AWOLNATION and the crowd. From the first song encouraging them to crowd surf, it’s pretty clear that they’re not the type of band you sway and nod your head to. It’s is an incredibly refreshing thing to see when so many new bands try so hard to live up to the “indie” label, afraid to show emotion on stage and consequently fail to illicit anything but a slow head bob from the crowd. Not so with AWOLNATION.


When you first look at Cold War Kids, you probably don’t expect to hear a sound that’s as much soul as it is indie rock. In short, they take a lot of people by surprise. Or maybe “took” is the operative word. Having blown up since their very first album, Cold War Kids quickly became a household name on the alt-rock scene. Landing them on the main stage at Firefly for a midday set, they garnered a pretty large crowd who seemed to love every minute of the band’s hour-plus set. Though the sound mixing was a bit low, making it hard for lead singer Nathan Willett’s powerful voice to really shine, the band still performed great. Willett’s staggeringly strong vocals and the poppy drumming of Matt Aveiro are the backbone of what makes their music so good, and that definitely applies to the live show. Songs like ‘Rubidoux’ and ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’ received huge reactions for the crowd, which reached farther back than it had for anyone on that stage thus far. Though it wasn’t the type of set that drove the crowd into a jumping frenzy, they without a doubt enjoyed Cold War Kids as they left to a cheer that lingered far after they had exited the stage.


Though not touring at the moment, Firefly was still able to procure indie juggernauts Death Cab for Cutie. Opening with the full 8+ minute version of ‘I Will Possess Your Heart,’ the band showcased a set comprised of mostly deep cuts. As a fan of Death Cab for a while now, it was great to see them dig into their catalogue and play songs that might not to familiar to casual fans. Especially at a festival, where the crowds tend to be a bit causal as opposed to headlining gigs. Battling a cold, lead singer Ben Gibbard didn’t seem to be slowed down at all, spending his time between vocal, guitar, piano, and even drum duties. The material from last year’s Codes and Keys sounded great, with songs like ‘You Are a Tourist’ growing much heavier and bolder than they sound on album. One would think that Death Cab for Cutie would be a pretty reserved act, the one you sit back and watch instead of really getting into, but they’re a different band live. The bass lines of Nick Harmer were much more evident as he plays an integral part of the ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’ extended intro, which is pretty much all Harmer plugging along the instantly recognizable notes. Long-time fans of the band were treated from tracks as far back as their very first album. ‘Amputations,’ ‘A Movie Script Ending,’ and ‘Marching Bands of Manhattan’ are all rarities for the band, and ones they’ve made an effort of not forgetting. With seven total albums, it’s impressive to see them not abandon the older tracks as to not alienate casual fans, something that bands of their caliber tend to do. The major highlight of the set was ‘We Looked Like Giants.’ Not only a fantastic (and rare) song in it’s own right, they extended it with a 10 minute long interlude that sees Gibbard take up drumming duties on a special mini-kit brought out just for this song. It shows the confidence Death Cab has in the abnormal nature of their live element. Most bands would shy away from material 7 seven albums ago and wouldn’t dare play two outros that combine over 15 minutes in length. It’s what makes Death Cab for Cutie such a great live band. They craft a set that isn’t comprised of all hits, even though they did make sure to pack a few in there, and aren’t afraid to get a little weird. It’s hard to walk away from a set like this unimpressed and there’s no way anyone at Firefly could have been anything but blown away with what Death Cab for Cutie did on the main stage.


Having never seen The Flaming Lips before, they’ve got quite the reputation preceding them. Known for the effort they put into production behind their shows, and not just complicated lighting rigs and visuals (though they did have a giant circular screen behind them), but by far less common means. Starting off with a Wizard of Oz-esque mob of Dorothy’s and Scarecrow’s on each side of the stage, it was clear that they would be anything but droll. During their first song, ‘Race for the Prize,’ they were shooting confetti for what felt like the entirety of the song. Seriously. There wasn’t a moment during the first 10 minutes where confetti wasn’t falling from the sky. Not only looking incredibly cool, there’s nothing that makes a crowd yell louder than shooting out confetti. In addition to the individual hand cannons they each had on stage, two crewmembers had massive tubes firing out fog and confetti, creating a rainbow colored haze. Add to that the spectrum of colors on the giant circular lighting rig/screen behind them and it felt more like a Tim Burton movie than a festival set. Lead singer Wayne Coyne then whipped out a megaphone, one would assume it would be used for vocals on a song, but that’s boring to The Flaming Lips. A heavy blue smoke starting pouring out of the megaphone as Coyne traipsed about the stage, creating a trail of permeating blue behind him. The trippy visual element aside, they sounded great as well. When a band has been around since 1986 with over 10 albums, it’s easy to just mail it in and play without much heart. This is the exact opposite description of The Flaming Lips. If anything they try harder than most bands half their age with twice their energy, and it shows. Right before ‘Is David Bowie Dying??,’ Wayne Coyne showed off his very unique take on crowd surfing. Inflating and then stepping inside a massive, transparent ball, he was rolled onto the barrier and them went end over end as hundreds of arms rolled him throughout the crowd. It was a live spectacle unlike any other. There are bands that spend millions of dollars on elaborate stage designs with lasers and complicated visuals, but Flaming Lips out-shined all of them with a much more creative take on their production. All other bands take note, if you want to be trippy, you’re not going to do it better than The Flaming Lips.


Unless you’ve been living under a soundproof rock for the past 2 years, you know who The Black Keys are. Having been around since 2001, they finally broke through to massive mainstream success, topped off by two sold out nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This is an impressive feat for any band, but especially one like The Black Keys who don’t first hit you as an arena rock band. It goes to show exactly how popular they’ve become. Headlining arenas and now closing out festivals, the jam-packed crowd was proof of why the band is on such high profile live slots. Opening with ‘Howlin for You,’ they set the tone early, grabbing the crowd immediately with such a big hit so early. The modern dirty blues style refined (and some could say pioneered) by The Black Keys transfers live quite well, especially so at a festival setting. One might think at first that a two man band may seem a bit over their head on such a large stage, but if anything they used it to their advantage. It helped adding two touring members to beef up their sound, but the sheer presence they have on stage is undeniable. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have chemistry that’s beyond refined, at times it just seems like they’re going along with totally improvised jams and showed off how naturally loose they are on stage. The perfect choice to end the three day festival, The Black Keys arguably had the best well received set of the entire weekend and had a trail of cheers echoing as they left the stage.

Head over to for info on next year’s festival!






07 May

Just as Death Cab For Cutie was about to wrap up their sold-out spring tour, the band just announced the first set of dates of a summer tour. The band played ACL Live at the Moody Theater in Austin on Saturday night. Our photographer Phil DeSimone was there to get some cool photos of the band.

Check them out below along with the band’s newly announced tour dates.

30 Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON The Commons (w/The Tragically Hip)

1 Barrie, ON Burl’s Creek (w/The Tragically Hip)
3 Cleveland, OH Jacobs Pavilion
4 Rochester Hills, MI Meadow Brook
5 Milwaukee, WI Summerfest
7 Des Moines, IA 80/35 Music Festival
8 Lawrence, KS Liberty Music Hall
9 Springfield, MO Gilloz Theatre
10 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom
12 Chicago, IL “The Taste of Chicago”
13 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
14 Charlottesville, VA nTelos Wireless Pavilion
15 Cincinnati, OH Bunbury Music Festival
17 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
19 Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theatre
20 Holyoke, MA Mountain Park
21 Cooperstown, NY Ommegang Brewery
22 Dover, DE Firefly Music Festival

31 Jan

After having sold out Oakland, CA’s Fox Theater and two nights at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, Death Cab for Cutie has announced additional tour dates on their upcoming North American trek. The band will perform a third night at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday, April 29 as well as a second night at Oakland’s Fox Theater on Wednesday, May 9. All tour dates are now on sale, with April 16′s Chicago Theatre show going on sale this Saturday, February 4 (see dates below).

The one-of-a-kind spring trek of intimate venues and historic theaters will see DCFC accompanied on stage by members of San Francisco’s celebrated Magik*Magik Orchestra. Known for their innovative collaborations with such artists as Mike Patton, John Vanderslice, The Walkmen, and The Dodos, the orchestral group previously teamed with Death Cab for Cutie for their recent installment of VH1 Storytellers as well as doing all of the string arrangements on the band’s most current release “CODES AND KEYS.” Support acts include Low on the tour’s first leg (April 10-April 25) with Youth Lagoon joining the second leg (April 27-May 13).

A new single, “Underneath the Sycamore,” will herald the upcoming tour, with an amazing companion video directed by Walter Robot, who did the band’s famed “Grapevine Fires” video. Watch the video here: The track is among the many highlights of DCFC’s critically acclaimed album, “CODES AND KEYS” which has been nominated in the “Best Alternative Music Album” category at this year’s Grammy Awards. “You Are A Tourist,” the album’s first single, proved a multi-format radio smash upon its release last year, reaching #1 at both Triple A and Modern Rock outlets nationwide – DCFC’s first-ever #1 at the latter format.

For up-to-the-minute news and tour information, visit

ON TOUR 2012

4/10 – Denver, CO @ Ellie Caulkins Opera House ^
4/11 – Omaha, NE @ Omaha Music Hall ^
4/13 – Louisville, KY @ Louisville Palace ^
4/14 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Covenant Fine Arts Center ^
4/15 – Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theatre ^
4/16 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre ^
4/19 – Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall ^
4/20 – Montreal, QC @ St. Jean Baptiste Church ^
4/21 – Boston, MA @ Citi Performing Arts Center ^
4/23 – Providence, RI @ Veterans Memorial Auditorium ^
4/24 – Buffalo, NY @ Kleinhans Music Hall ^
4/25 – Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre ^
4/27 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre * – SOLD OUT
4/28 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre * – SOLD OUT
4/29 – New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre *
4/30 – North Bethesda, MD @ Strathmore * – SOLD OUT
5/1 – Knoxville, TN @ Tennessee Theatre *
5/3 – Dallas, TX @ McFarlin Memorial Auditorium *
5/4 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater * – SOLD OUT
5/6 – Mesa, AZ @ Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theater *
5/7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Walt Disney Concert Hall * – SOLD OUT
5/8 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater * – SOLD OUT
5/9 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater *
5/11 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall *
5/13 – Seattle, WA @ The Paramount Theatre *

^with Low
*with Youth Lagoon

26 Jan


WHERE: ACL LIVE at The Moody Theater



TICKET INFO:, in store at Waterloo Records, or charge by phone at 877-4FLYTIX

By their seventh studio album, many bands are running out of creative steam and original ideas. But in the case of Death Cab for Cutie, nothing could be further from the truth. Codes and Keys is singular in the quartet’s catalog when it comes to sonic exploration and lyrical ambition. If anything, the band has never sounded more excited to experiment with textures, words, sounds and even the process of recording itself.

Austin City Limits Live and Transmission Entertainment are proud to bring Death Cab for Cutie with The Magik*Magik Orchestra and special guest Youth Lagoon, to Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater on Friday, May 4th, 2012.

19 Jan

Due to severe weather conditions in the NorthWest, Youth Lagoon has been forced to move its Seattle show, originally scheduled for tonight at Neumos, to Monday, Jan. 23. Youth Lagoon also added a run of dates in late April and May, opening for Death Cab For Cutie’s orchestral tour — this is in addition to Youth Lagoon’s already scheduled dates in March and April which also includes the band’s first appearance at SXSW. See the full dates below.


1/20: Biltmore, Vancouver
1/21: Doug Fir, Portland
1/23: Neumos, Seattle
3/10: Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City
3/11: Larimer Lounge, Denver
3/12: Jackpot Music Hall, Lawrence
3/14 – 3/17: SXSW, Austin
3/18: Fitzgerald’s, Houston
3/19: One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans
3/20: Club Downunder, Tallahassee
3/21: The Social, Orlando
3/22: Drunken Unicorn, Atlanta
3/23: Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro
3/24: Rock N Roll Hotel, Washington DC
3/26: Union Transfer, Philadelphia
3/27: Bowery Ballroom, New York
3/28: Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
3/29: Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge
3/30: La Sala Rossa, Montreal
3/31: Lee’s Palace, Toronto
4/02: Radio Radio, Indianapolis
4/03: Firebird, St. Louis
4/04: Metro, Chicago
4/05: Turner Hall, Milwaukee
4/08: Indie O Fest, Mexico City
4/11: Porter’s Pub @ UCSD, San Diego
4/12: Troubadour, Los Angeles
4/13: The Independent, San Francisco
4/27: Beacon, New York *
4/30: Strathmore, Washington DC *
5/01: Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville *
5/03: ACL Live, Austin *
5/04: McFarlin Auditorium, Dallas *
5/06: Mesa Arts Center, Mesa *
5/07: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles *
5/08: Fox Theater, Oakland *
5/13: Paramount Theatre, Seattle *

* = w/ Death Cab for Cutie

18 Jan

Atlantic recording group Death Cab for Cutie has announced details of a major North American tour following a string of dates in Australia and South East Asia. The dates begin April 10th at Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House and then culminate with a May 13th homecoming concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre (see dates below). Youth Lagoon will support Death Cab beginning April 27th at NYC’s Beacon Theatre and continue through the end of the tour. First leg opener to be announced shortly.

The one-of-a-kind spring trek of intimate venues and historic theaters will see DCFC accompanied on stage by members of San Francisco’s celebrated Magik*Magik Orchestra. Known for their innovative collaborations with such artists as Mike Patton, John Vanderslice, The Walkmen, and The Dodos, the orchestral group previously teamed with Death Cab for Cutie for their recent installment ofVH1 Storytellers as well as doing all of the string arrangements on the band’s most current release CODES AND KEYS.

Presale tickets for all dates will be available to members of the band’s official fan club, DCFC Union Local #1138, beginning Friday, January 20th. All remaining tickets will then go on sale to the general public starting on January 27th. For further details and as-yet-unannounced tour information, visit

A new single, “Underneath the Sycamore,” will herald the upcoming tour, with an amazing companion video directed by Walter Robot, who did the band’s famed “Grapevine Fires” video. The piece, which premiered on can be viewed here: The track is among the many highlights of DCFC’s critically acclaimed album, “CODES AND KEYS” which has been nominated in the “Best Alternative Music Album” category at this year’s Grammy Awards. “You Are A Tourist,” the album’s first single, proved a multi-format radio smash upon its release last year, reaching #1 at both Triple A and Modern Rock outlets nationwide – DCFC’s first-ever #1 at the latter format.

“CODES AND KEYS” entered the Billboard 200 at #3 upon its May 2011 release. In addition to its popular success, the album has also received critical praise from a wide array of national publications, including Spin, Rolling Stone, Blackbook, Time Out New York,Interview, Filter, the New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly, which declared the album to be “a reminder to the rest of the pretty-rock community that loveliness is worthless if there’s no heart behind it, and Death Cab’s beats stronger than most.”

Death Cab for Cutie’s recent live performance at the world-famous Brooklyn Museum can be seen in an upcoming installment of the popular PBS series, Live From The Artists’ Den. The band’s full-length episode – which is streaming at – will begin airing on PBS stations nationwide beginning February 17th. For details, visit

Death Cab for Cutie is: Ben Gibbard: guitars, keyboards, vocals * Chris Walla: guitars, keyboards * Nick Harmer: bass * Jason McGerr: drums.

For up-to-the-minute news and tour information, visit


ON TOUR 2012


17 Perth, Aus Perth International Arts Festival

18 Perth, Aus Perth International Arts Festival

20 Adelaide, S. Aus HQ

21 Sydney, New S. Wales Palace

24 Sydney, New S. Wales Enmore Theatre

27 Brisbane, Queensland The Trivoli Theatre

29 Wellington, NZ Wellington Town Hall


3 Taipei, Taiwan Neo Studio

5 Taguig, Philippines NBC Tent

7 Singapore, SG Fort Gate at Fort Canning Park
























30 Barcelona, Spain San Miguel Primavera Sound 2012

7 Porto, Portugal Optimus Primavera Sound 2012

*Youth Lagoon to support from April 27th – May 13th

11 Jan

Death Cab For Cutie premiered their video for “Underneath The Sycamore” this morning at

Watch it now below:

15 Dec

Watch the exclusive premiere of Death Cab for Cutie’s Live from the Artists Den performance at the Brooklyn Museum at As part of the new season of the hit television series, Death Cab for Cutie’s full-length episode will broadcast nationwide beginning February 17, 2012. Check your local listings at

watch it now at:

10 Dec

Death Cab For Cutie co-headlined 107.7 The End’s Deck The Hall Ball on Wednesday night.

Check out Ben Gibbard and his gnarly beard in photos of the band’s set courtesy of Marianne Spellman and read a review of the concert here

10 Dec

Words by Grant Ruby, Photos by Marianne Spellman

Radio stations often put together disjointed lineups for such things as a holiday show like 107.7 The End’s Deck the Hall Ball. Because an alternative rock station like this plays so many bands from innumerable sub-genres, it can be difficult to find several acts that fit reasonably well together and can draw a large audience at the same time. In the 20th annual edition of the station’s winter festival, the end brought in some of alternative’s heaviest hitters. With Grammy nominated acts like Mumford & Sons and Death Cab For Cutie as headliners along with young up-and-comers Cage the Elephant, Foster the People, Young the Giant, Two Door Cinema Club and Grouplove lending support.

Because Deck the Hall Ball had so many bands this year, it was necessary to start rather early for a weekday. Grouplove took the stage at 4pm, and traffic kept me from getting to the venue on time to see their set. However, I had a chance to speak with the band later in the evening, and they noted that they’ll be back in Seattle with Young the Giant in April next year. I saw them in Salt Lake City earlier this year, and I can attest that they are a phenomenal live band. They plan to start work on their sophomore release this summer, after the tour with Young the Giant.

More photos of Grouplove from the Deck The Hall Ball

Two Door Cinema club was one of three bands on the bill that I hadn’t seen live before. They were very high energy, and tracked as many songs from their debut Tourist History in their allotted thirty minute window. They hit on two of my favorite songs from the band in “I Can Talk” and “Come Back Home” among others. Though playing second in a long bill, the early crowd supported them as though they were headlining. Two Door responded with a great, high-energy set that was great for long-time fans and new fans alike. Though their album has been out for less than a year, I am excited to hear new music from this band; they are one of the many bright spots on the horizon for Alternative music.

More photos of Two Door Cinema Club from the Deck The Hall Ball

Young the Giant was the next band to take the stage. Just prior to the start of their set their label rep walked up to me to say hello. He was very excited for me to see his band for the first time, and I met his enthusiasm as the first chords of their set began to echo in the arena. This band is surprisingly high-energy when they play live; at least they were this night. Several times throughout their set I found myself thinking “This is awesome!” They have a showmanship not seen in a lot of “indie rock” bands who tend to eschew that element of performing for a more introspective approach. Not these guys. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia was all over the place, alternately singing into both of the microphones at the front of the stage. As the band began to wind down they played “Islands,” one of the more down tempo tracks on their eponymous debut album. The fullness of sound coming from the band, even when taking it down a notch, was noticeable, and where the crowd can be lost when a band plays a ballad, Young the Giant kept the attention of the sold out show and rewarded them with a fantastic performance of an amazing song. They played their current hit “Cough Syrup” early in the set, and closed with the song that put them on the map: “My Body.” The crowd erupted at the first notes of the bass line that starts the song, and the band fed off the increased energy and delivered a resounded finale to their already meteoric, if all too brief, set. Throughout their time on stage Gadhia repeatedly reminded the audience that they will be back in April for a show at the Moore. A show that many in the audience will surely attend after getting a taste.

More photos of Young the Giant from the Deck The Hall Ball

Foster the People performed amazingly on the heels of the previous band. I have seen these guys twice, both in places that hold well under 1,000 people, and they have come a very long way since playing the intimate confines of Kilby Court in March. They have learned how to perform to a large crowd in the short time since catching on commercially. Unlike the previous bands this day, Foster the People incorporated a sizable lighting element to their performance. Tapping the songs that you’ve no doubt heard many times on your local radio station like “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Don’t Stop,” they built the audience into a frenzy with their synth-assisted pop melodies. With their big light show and bigger sound Foster the People proved their condensed rise to the top has been no fluke. They have learned the tricks of playing to an arena audience, which will only help them continue to play to large audiences. So many bands that have “overnight” success don’t learn how to play to the larger crowds quickly enough, and it is more than apparent from this performance that they are not going to fade back into obscurity, but are seizing their opportunity and are looking to dominate the landscape for years to come.

More photos of Foster the People from the Deck The Hall Ball

Cage the Elephant was the next band to take over the spotlight. After the crowd was worked into a frenzy by the dance friendly tunes of Foster the People, Cage brought the rock back to the stage. As I tweeted that night, “Cage the Elephant is one of the very best young rock bands today.” Cage represented a shift change from the newest and brightest of the Alternative format to the middle-weights. The first band of the day that has more than one album out, Cage the Elephant are tireless in their touring, and their commitment comes out on stage. I have had the pleasure of seeing Cage live four times now, and this was definitely their largest crowd, the only other to come close was the first time I saw them at Coachella in 2009. Lead singer Matt Shultz has improved as a frontman every time I’ve seen the band perform. His antics on stage, and his penchant for diving into the crowd, repeatedly, help them to connect with the audience and turn an arena show into a club show. To the crowd’s delight, the band kicked off their set with “In One Ear,” the opening track from their debut album. During their second song, “2024,” Shultz made his first foray into the crowd. In a year when the twentieth anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind was celebrated, Cage the Elephant is one of the few young bands with an obvious influence, and it is very obvious. With their punk rock aesthetic and minimalist light show, which allowed the rock to speak for itself, Cage the Elephant delivered the greatest performance of the day. To finish their set, the icing on the cake, the band played “Sabertooth Tiger” as Shultz once again found himself in the crowd, standing aloft on the hands of those in the pit, as every person in the house looked upon the spectacle.

More photos of Cage the Elephant from the Deck The Hall Ball

With each act upping the ante and making it increasingly more difficult for the following act, Death Cab For Cutie accepted the challenge of following the heaviest act of the day as home town heroes returning to Key Arena for the second time in as many months. Only six weeks prior the boys from Bellingham held their homecoming and played a huge show at the same venue. I was curious how they would change their set list for those that attended both shows, and they made quite a bit of changes to keep from repeating themselves. Though they were limited in time, the band managed to squeeze in three songs they hadn’t played at the end of October, including a second track from their 2000 album We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes. They also played crowd favorites like “The New Year,” “Soul Meets Body,” and “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Even some minor glitches and feedback couldn’t derail the band as they continued to play for the monstrous crowd without missing a beat. Even though their time was truncated, they managed to give the crowd another great show that spanned most of their catalog.

More photos of Death Cab For Cutie from the Deck The Hall Ball

To finish the festival, Mumford & Sons took the stage and wasted no time surging into “Lover’s Eyes,” and never letting up. It isn’t easy to close out a long day of music like this, but the British bluegrass rock band performed admirably and kept the crowd whipped into a frenzy for most of their set. With Mumford, the subtlety of their performance was what stood out the most. Yes, they have a lot of dynamic range, going from full boar to a crawl and back sometimes within the same song. Their horn section were ridiculously good, adding a depth to the songs that isn’t fully realized even on the album. I also didn’t realize (but wasn’t surprised to learn) that Mumford is such a jam band. They took a couple songs on long tangents before coming back to finish a verse. It was reminiscent of Dave Matthews Band. The highlight for me was “Little Lion Man;” not because it’s a popular song or that they played it very well (though they did play it very well, with a few small twists), but because of the Christmas lights strewn about the arena from the light rigging out across the floor. When the lights came on, they hadn’t been used all day, the room immediately shrank. It was though the roof fell in on the place and an intimate show erupted from the rubble. The feeling was palpable in the room, and the energy fed the band to a roaring crescendo through the song with thousands of fans yelling “I really fucked it up this time” back at the performers in unison. As the band wound down, and the encore break hit, the exodus began and it was apparent the day was ending. The band returned to play their smash hit “The Cave,” capping a great day of music with one of the best songs performed that day.

More photos of Mumford and Sons from the Deck The Hall Ball

As I left the venue with the herding crowd, there were many stories being told, many favorite moments being recalled, and many a happy face. Some of my favorite bands all on one stage together being shared with a few thousand friends. What better way to spend a Wednesday evening? I can’t think of a single one.