Bixby Canyon Bridge was a great opener and once it reached the official “kick in,” a quilted backdrop fell from the Upstage Truss, modeled after the cover for Narrow Stairs. This would be one of the most dynamic points of the production, as the lighting designer gave the band and stage lots of space for their own dynamic musings to take place in, meander through and infiltrate the pours of the grandiose design that is Pritzker Pavilion.
The New Year kept the pace going and the band was loosening up nicely. The opening track of Transatlanticism never fails to gets me rocking, but I’ve always thought no album has rocked as hard as You Can Play These Songs With Chords. My prayers for one of those tunes were answered immediately as the feedback at the end of TNY melted into Why You’d Want To Live Here, from the former mentioned record. It had been a while since I heard the song at all, and I thought they did it justice.
The drum machine intro of Photobooth got a good response from the mild, but huge, crowd and everyone was crooning along. I think that was one of the cool things about a Death Cab concert; the songs are pretty much in the key that everyone can sing along with, and its not going to ruin anyone’s time.
Of the next run of songs Grapevine Fires stood out as very rehearsed, well layered and boasted an incredible vocal performance. As darkness finally surrounded us, so had Chris Walla’s soundscapes which were being accentuated by the Light Designer’s keen use of color and space.
The songs in the middle of the set reached back into the DCFC Canon and visited some of the darker lyrical phrasing Gibbard was using at the time. Company Calls absolutely crushed with its Epilogue following, reminding me of what a great composition the two are when played together.
Ben’s guitar tech then hurried out with an acoustic and I knew Soul Meets Body was on the way, as well as I Will Follow You Into The Dark from Plans. The former was certainly the better executed number and sounded so much like the album version.
As the bass line began to tumble for I Will Possess Your Heart I knew I was going to see a side of Death Cab everyone else was getting to know… the jamband! Just kidding, really, but it’s really nice to see them getting loose up there and really banging out that progression. Deep, brooding and vigilant, the rhythm section held this jam down and it lead nicely into the vocal section.
Cath, one of my favorites of the new record, was also executed to perfection. Marching Bands of Manhattan was an amazing way to end the set, as I was skeptical when they began to play it. As the band got louder, and Ben kept repeating the last vocal phrase, the entire lighting rig began to come to life and it really put a very professional finishing touch on the evening.
I’d really like to talk about the entire encore but I’m not going to. I’m just going to say that after four great songs Ben took a seat behind the piano and they destroyed Transatlanticism, which in my opinion is one of the greatest love songs ever written. The band was locked in, and the vocal performance was spot on.
If you are heading to Bonnaroo I suggest making some time in your schedule for the hottest thing to come out of Seattle, since, well, that other band at Bonnaroo. DO IT.
Death Cab For Cutie
Jay Pritzker Pavillion
Set: Bixby Canyon Bridge, The New Year, Why You’d Want to Live Here, Photobooth, Crooked Teeth, Long Division, Grapevine Fires, A Movie Script Ending, Company Calls, Company Calls Epilogue, Soul Meets Body, I Will Follow You Into The Dark, I Will Possess Your Heart, ….Cath, No Sunshine, The Sound of Settling, Marching Bands of Manhattan
Encore: Your Bruise, Title and Registration, 405, Your Heart is an Empty Room, Transatlanticism