You might be forgiven for thinking that Key Arena was a poor choice for hosting a Death Cab for Cutie concert. I mean, how does a band with a catalog of seemingly sad, mellow songs keep an entire arena entertained? I was skeptical, but I was also very wrong. Either Death Cab’s albums are deceiving, or I just haven’t been listening properly, because what we witnessed on Saturday night was a full-on rock and roll show. From the opening bass line of I Will Possess Your Heart to the closing notes of Transatlanticism, Ben Gibbard and Company hardly paused for a breath, thundering through their lengthy catalog.
“We’ll get to it,” laughed Gibbard to a shouted request early in the show, “We’re working our way through a two-hour-plus set here!”
This was not the Death Cab I was expecting, and it proves once again that a band doesn’t “make it big” without a great live show.
After angering the rock gods (“I feel like Led Zeppelin up here!”), Gibbard was struck with technical problems and had to finish a song sans-guitar. “I can’t even play Stairway to Heaven,” he bantered afterwards. But, he could certainly hold an arena’s attention, and that has given me a new-found respect for the group. From I Will Follow You Into The Dark, where Gibbard’s familiar emotion-filled voice held our attention, to the loud and raucous double drum showdown on We Looked Like Giants, Death Cab proved they can not only keep an arena entertained, but be one of the best live acts I’ve seen in a long time.
“We’re Death Cab for Cutie, and we’re from here.”
I have a confession to make. I lived in Bellingham for 7 years. The same Bellingham where Ben Gibbard formed a little group called Death Cab For Cutie while he was studying engineering at Western Washington University. I recall the rumblings of this group “getting big” but I was too busy drinking Raspberry Long Islands at The Royal to pay any attention. In all that time, I never once even stepped foot into the Wild Buffalo.
So fast forward to last night, my first time finally seeing DCFC live. To headline a show at Key Arena, you’ve obviously got to be a big deal. I was expecting the flashing lights, the girls screaming “I LOVE YOU BENNNNN!!”, the crowd pressing to get closer to the stage…what I wasn’t expecting was the difference between Death Cab In My Headphones and Death Cab On A Stage. The Ben Gibbard I knew was great for commiserating with you during a break-up, but good lord…he’s also a bonafide Rock Star. They blew through their fantastic two hour set with non-stop energy, Gibbard flinging sweat (and apologizing for it) on the poor security guard in front of him. “It’s kinda my thing,” he said. Wait, what? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS AND WHY AM I DANCING?!
I can’t say for sure if their live shows have always been this animated, but at least last night Death Cab For Cutie was the madness.
SEE RELATED POST: In Concert: The Head and The Heart – Seattle – 10/22/2011