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Once again, we return to the venue with the expensive drinks, understaffed bar, overpriced tickets, which is Verizon Wireless Theatre. This time though, unlike Skrillex, which only allowed an audience of eighteen and over, Death Cab’s show which was partially composed of tweens, had little to no line at the bars. As the attendance of the show grew it became hot in the venue, to an extent that was absurd for a band that had only lyrical and melodic tones with compared to heavy bass beats and much dancing. It was Monday night, which also meant that the amount of what I call “kids” (people who attend events or shows via funds of the guardian or parent) was low due to the fact that it is a school night. With the release of the new pop song “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” and hits such as “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” we return the fact that people do tend to attend concerts for the basis of only a few songs. I will go more in depth with that subject in another blog. Overall the items for sale were not overpriced, having purchased the vinyl of “Codes and Keys,” for the amount of twenty dollars is what I believe a fair price.
Telekinesis, a band originating from Seattle was the opening act. The three piece band was composed of two younger musicians and an older bass player. Overall the band had that pop punk tone that sounded like the radio friendly music that adults think all young people listen to. Unfortunately this was the case, and with part of the crowd being “kids,” there was an overzealous optimism towards the band which felt like too much for the amount of effort and style they put into their music. Each song truly lacked originality and sounded like it had been manufactured using the same template that other bands use to create singles. With the drummer being the singer, there was an expectation that the drums themselves would play a more minuscule role than traditional pop punk bands. This statement failed when the drummer began taking control over the drums all whilst still keeping the composure to bring out the vocals. His voice was also that of a stereotypical pop punk band. The alternation between the bass and guitar taking lead was a good way to change the rhythm and beat of the song while still keeping it in the realm that they created at the beginning of it. The quality of their musical abilities is nothing out of the norm, yet they knew how to play to their target audience.
As the lights dimmed once more the audience began to scream with a loud roar. There was a sound which began to start while no one was yet on stage, and then finally the band came out. They rushed to their instruments as the lights slowly began to light up with the bass starting off the hit single from their album Narrow Stairs entitled “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The drums kicked in nearly immediately and unlike the song its self, the lead singer started off with his guitar rather than the album version, on the piano. Though this song has one of the most intense and powerful builds, the crowd was not as enthused about it, until they finally realized what song it was. There lies the problem with going to a concert with only knowing a few of the songs, the fact that there is the lack of interaction until they play those two songs they wish to hear.
Death Cab has great music with perfect lyrical schemes and melody which can move everyone, and with their huge success with Narrow Stairs, their music has now expanded to a mainstream crow. The show though was not made for the mainstream crowd only, but also for us fans that have been following the band for years. There was a song from every one of their albums played that night. This was seen on their first show of the year when they played Sasquatch on the 28th of May of this year. With pleasing their fan base, they suffered from full crowd interaction at times. I say that there were many “kids” but as I later found out, they were mainly located near the front, with more of the mature crowd in the middle and back of the theatre.
As the music progressed and the band jumped from album to album changing their stage presence appropriately to the shift in song making the crowd flow with the rhythm of the music. The lights were also in accordance to their current song, with a simple cascading light panel and traditional stage lights. The lack of complexity reflects the sentiment of attention towards the music than to an extravagant performance.
With their set list being what it is there were a few songs which were not up to par with the album versions. Also, with the band having many albums before them, their set lists changed from city to city, making each set list unique and every show different in style and manner. The majority of the songs were great and even better than their recorded versions, but others were just mediocre in comparison to what is recorded. With the extra sounds and equipment that is lacked in live performance, there should be some discrepancies in what is heard in the album and what is heard in a venue, but in this instance it was too vast and large of a gap to justify their lack of ability to replicate the songs. A simple example of this was “Door Unlocked and Open,” in which a synth makes up a large portion of the song, but live it was nearly a background noise, causing a lack of depth to the song and making it sound descent but not nearly as profound as the album. This happened for more than just one song, but did not have too much of an affect as to revoke their live performance as one of the shows which will mark this fall as their best tour.
The band played songs from previous unpopular albums such as, “Something About Airplanes,” and “We Have the Facts and are Voting Yes.” This hits the true fan base of the band, since the majority of the current artists touring mainly focus on the promotion of their new album, this band acknowledges that they have been far from a real tour for some time and are giving the fans what they want, which is not just a promotional tour but a full blow discography tour. With them mixing their set list with a newer song followed by an older song, it made great strides pleasing both new and older fans alike. One of the examples of this was when they played “Photobooth,” which is one of their famous older songs from their The Forbidden Love EP, which was released in 2000 to “Doors Unlocked and Open,” the latest songs from their latest album Codes and Keys. They even went to the extent of combining an older classic which I have had much respect for entitled, “Blacking out the Friction.” With the lyrics of the song then ending, they combined the song with the lyrics of “St. Peter’s Cathedral,” creating the perfect mash-up of the songs and then ending the wonderful creation with the song of “St. Peter’s Cathedral.”
The rest of the songs which were more emotional and less instrumentally dependent topped the rank of their album versions and immersed the listener into another realm of reality with its whimsical guitar and catchy bass lines as well as the melodic and flowing piano and drums. Songs like “The New Year,” and “We Looked Like Giants,” with the powerful build, moved the audience as the climax of the songs blasted through the sound system and onto the audience. Even those who had not known these more rock themed indie songs moved to the depth and perception of these songs not knowing that the mellow indie band from Bellingham Washington had such intricate and explosive sounds in their history. During the traditional interlude of “We Looked Like Giant,” Ben Gibbard joined in with Jason McGerr on the drums to make a full blow drum session which was accompanied with a heavy guitar riff and bass set. These songs resonated far after the show ended as well as the popular, “ I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” which though not my favorite of the songs, was sung by the entire audience as lead singer Ben Gibbard lead the cords on the acoustic guitar. At the same time though, there are the mellow sounds and harmonic notes and instruments which swayed the crowd such as “Title and Registration,” and “Brothers on a Hotel Bed,” which were in no way similar to the album versions.
With Chris Walla leading, “Brothers on a Hotel Bed,” with the piano, the song echoed in the dimming lights as the lyrics began to sprout and start the encore as the chanting of “10 more songs,” and “Death Cab,” faded away and the roaring and applause began.
The show in its entirety was worth seeing and overall an experience worth being a part of. With that I turn to my personal perspective of the show as a major fan of the band. It was the highlight of this year beating the rest of the shows I have seen. The ending of the encore was the part that moved me the most and placed me in a state of nirvana, anger, depression, joy, and fear. There are no words to describe the power and intensity of “Transatlanticism,” which cannot even be considered in the same realm as that of the album version. As the lyrics came from the band and the piano played in the beginning of the song I sang along slightly only watching and looking in astonishment realizing what was about to happen. The thing I have been yearning for since I saw them five years ago was finally happening and was about to end with the song that I favor the most. The lyrics of the song its self is already a miraculous art which cannot be replicated by anyone else, then the intense and surreal build that the band does with the piano and guitar as well as the steady drum beat and bass master the art of the climax. I start nearly screaming along with the song, “I need you so much closer.” Ben Gibbard then leaves the piano and joins Chris Walla on the guitar to play the steady strums which create the song and make its build more powerful than the soft piano. The guitar channels what the piano could not deliver, the raw energy and power of the song is felt from the vibrations on the ground. With the long interlude, which is what the band is known for, I began to move to the beat and looking with anticipation. The lyrics begin once again, “I need you so much closer,” exiting the speakers and hitting as hard as they could. The drum pick up the tempo and the bass does as well with both guitars following the rythm and my body rocking back and forth with my foot tapping as hard as it possibly could. The rhythm gets louder and the climax of the song is within a few beats. As the lyrics begin again I take a deep breath and exhale one last time before screaming along with Benn Gibbard, “So come on. Come on.” I was in my own space and time, with the events around me fading. The lyrics repeated and I kept screaming, “So come on. Come on.” The instruments were reaching their peek as if they were being pushed to their limit. The drums sounded like they were going to break with the pounding of the bass, the guitars were loud and sounded as if the strings were going to snap, while the bass was being strummed ferociously. The main chords of the song remained still the main chords but were not just a way to move the song forward but the song itself. “So come on. Come on.” I kept screaming until the instruments last chord or beat echoed in the amp and had only lead singer Ben Gibbard playing his guitar still singing. I finally stopped with one last time reciting the words which resonate still inside my head, “So come on. Come on.”
I Will Possess Your Heart
Why You’d Want to Live Here
Doors Unlocked and Open
Codes and Keys
Blacking Out the Friction + St. Peter’s Cathedral
I Will Follow You into the Dark
You Are a Tourist
The New Year
President of What?
Title and Registration
A Movie Script Ending
Soul Meets Body
We Looked Like Giants
Marching Bands of Manhattan
Brothers on a Hotel Bed
Stay Young, Go Dancing
The Sound of Settling