Review by Piya Sinha-Roy
Death Cab For Cutie
The Greek Theatre
Better Than... trying to figure out how to spell "Transatlanticism."
It's hard to imagine that a laid-back band like Death Cab For Cutie, who are better known for their soft indie-angst tunes, can fill an open-air venue like the Greek Theater. In truth, they're full of surprises.
Following the rambunctious opening act Frightened Rabbit (indie rockers from bonny
Scotland) DCFC front man Ben Gibbard cracked intermittent jokes. After the band finished up one of their newest tracks, "Codes And Keys," Gibbard looked out at the audience.
"Maybe this song will help you single seaters come together and fall in love," he said, before dedicating the acoustic ballad "I'll Follow You Into The Dark" to them.
Death Cab For Cutie have existed (with some minor changes in drummers) for almost 15 years now, and with seven albums under their belt, their set list incorporated the highlights of their career so far.
Picks from albums like Narrow Stairs and The Open Door EP, Transatlanticism and Plans constituted most of the songs played, along with the newest tracks from the 2011 release Codes and Keys. Missing however were signature songs like "A Lack Of Color," "No Sunlight" and "Pity And Fear," while oldies like "Company Calls," were included and received with a disinterested lull.
Despite moving away from guitar-centered tracks in Codes and Keys, it is the guitar tracks that the crowd likes best, with folks dancing along to favorites such as "Title And Registration," and "The New Year."
While the band left the bulk of the entertaining to front man Gibbard, they made sure
to have their individual moments in the spotlight. Drummer Jason McGreer soloed at the end of "Soul Meets Body," while Nick Harmer and Chris Walla rocked out on bass and guitar in "We Looked Like Giants," lit by the strobe lights and interpretive light installations that adorned the back of the stage.
The crowd stayed loyal, but the overall energy ebbed and flowed with each song, with high-energy numbers seeing everyone dancing, before the ballads saw them collapse
into their seats, entranced with the atmospheric waves enveloping them. Or so it seemed.
Throughout the two-hour performance, Gibbard's vocals struggled to stay on top of the
music at times; it was only after a rousing performance of "The Sound Of Settling," during an encore of "Transatlanticism," that Gibbard's voice finally took the spotlight. It was only on the last song that his soft vocals gained more confidence and really took over the venue. The crowd clearly approved, applauding and stamping, as the closing notes rounded out the evening.
Despite being Seattle boys, DCFC embodied the spirit of SoCal with their down-tempo
beats and soft-angst ballads, and set against the backdrop of the Greek Theatre, DCFC
were in their element. With the guitar tracks proving to be the biggest crowd-pleasers,
here's hoping that DCFC will stick to their indie-rocking roots and deliver many more
albums of angsty goodness.
Personal Bias: Listening to "A Movie Script Ending" under the stars on a warm balmy LA night made me nostalgic for the good old days of Ryan, Marissa, Seth and Summer on The O.C. (yes, I own every O.C. soundtrack. Don't judge me.)
Crowd: A menagerie of trilby hats, oversized glasses and plaid.
Overheard in the crowd: On the penultimate encore song; Guy 1 - "Dude, there's no way they can leave on this song. No Fucking Way." Guy 2 - "You should kill yourself."
Random Notebook Dump: Ben Gibbard's long mop of lanky dark hair was the real star of the show, often taking the spotlight as it masked its owner's face throughout the majority of the songs.
Set list below.
1) I Will Possess Your Heart
2) Crooked Teeth
3) We Laugh Indoors
4) A Movie Script Ending
5) Doors Unlocked and Open
6) Long Division
7) Grapevine Fires
8) Codes And Keys
9) I Will Follow You Into The Dark
10) Title And Registration
11) You Are A Tourist
12) The New Year
14) Company Calls
15) Soul Meets Body
16) Some Boys
18) We Looked Like Giants
19) Marching Bands Of Manhattan
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20) Stay Young, Go Dancing
21) Your Bruise
22) The Sound Of Settling