As my first time at a Death Cab for Cutie show, I expected to just sit in my seat, relax and enjoy.
To my luck, my expectations were too modest as they provided a quality rock and roll show Thursday, Oct. 26 at Tower Theater,
in Upper Darby, Pa.
The choice to have Ted Leo and Pharmacists
open for them during their tour was warranted, but didn’t feel quite right at the Tower – one shouldn’t have the option to sit for Ted Leo. Yet, it was hard to ask for a better opener – a band that mixes punk, rock and roll and a slice of ska music tendencies.
Starting with “Little Dawn,” Ted Leo immediately set the tone for the audience, which filled half the seats in the orchestra pit. Sitting for the whole show seemed like a crime, and 99 percent of the audience was.
Still, Ted Leo and drummer Chris Wilson
were fully enthused to play for college kids and the surprising number of middle-aged concertgoers. Bassist Dave Lerner had enough hair to start a small garden, and you couldn’t tell if he was alive or not – in other words, too much hair, not enough energy.
However, the band’s sound as a whole was exceptional, and definitely more potent than as heard in the studio. It’s not your conventional punk, but it’s easy to nod your head to. As they finished their set, the seats were mostly filled, and Death Cab for Cutie took the stage at 9:15 p.m.
Starting off with a fleeting percussion and bass-less version of “405,” it set a tone of being in an emotional space. It was exactly what I expected to hear at this concert; beautiful,solemn, melancholy – yet it wasn’t.
“This is a rock show, so you can stand up,” said lead singer, Ben Gibbard, in the middle of “Why You’d Want to Live Here.”
Everyone did stand up. The members of Death Cab for Cutie aren’t those little indie guys any more; they are rock stars and everyone knows it.
Underneath its unnecessarily humble introduction of “Hi, we’re Death Cab for Cutie from Seattle, Wash.,” lies the extremely experienced quartet that has played every song in their catalog countless times over.
They’re good at what they do, and they make it a rock show.Every song worked to its fullest capacity, especially “Transatlanticism.”
The song was structurally the same, and each note was played just as is on the album, but hearing it live made the build even more epic. After the first section of the song that has piano, Gibbard jumped off of the keys to grab his guitar, which created an even fuller sound.
As he repeated, “I need you so much closer,” Jason McGerr created a gradual
ascension, hitting his drums harder
and harder until he was pounding them straight through the apex of the song, with the entire crowd singing “so come on.”
A Death Cab live show works because
they know they’re supposed to impress on the surface of a listener’s expectations – so they fill the melancholy gaps with spurts of more intricate drum rhythms, and a grab bag of rock and roll tricks.They could afford to mix their anthems into their set because everyone is singing along, outside the ward of their bedroom.
It doesn’t even cross one’s mind that they’re constantly singing about heartbreak.
Therein lies the reason why the show was perfect – a balanced set-list.
Chris Zakorchemny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.