Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Death Cab for Cutie

There has been an old marketing trend on television that has made a comeback the last few years. Once again it now seems every new show has to have a rip roaring soundtrack with hip tunes that the shows' audience can latch onto and more importantly, buy the television soundtrack that contains the songs. For better or worse one of the shows that have brought back this trend is Fox's "The OC."

I have always wondered whether or not bands embrace a shows' adulation or do so ambivalently. Either way, arguably the biggest recipient of The OC's exposure is the character Seth Cohen's favorite band, Death Cab for Cutie. Death Cab made a stop on its fall tour here in Indianapolis last night at the Murat Theater and being a fan of their work, I attended with Torpor himself.

Getting Torpor to attend wasn't so easy. Little did I know one can't get celebrity gossip in Mexico and Torpor found himself out of the loop. I finally pulled him away from the "E" Channel and the latest issue of People and we were on our way.

Death Cab for Cutie is a four person band from Seattle. For a number of years they were indie darlings who made several albums for independent Barsuk. After the release of their strongest creative work"Transatlanticism" they bolted for major label Atlantic. Their major label debut "Plans" was released last year.

The approximately 2000 seat Murat was essentially sold out for the show save a for very few seats in the balcony. Immediately Torpor and I noticed that the majority of the crowd in attendance hovered around college age. A significant portion of the crowd looked like they were in high school. Save for a hip dad here and there taking his kid to the concert, Torpor and I may have been the only two people in attendance who remember the Regan era by living it and not from 4th period history class.

The back drop of the show was the back and white lighted pattern that make up part of the cover of their latest album. The band took the stage right at nine PM and the first song of the evening was "Marching Bands of Manhattan", the first song off of "Plans." They followed up that song with "New Year", which happens to be the first song off of "Transatlanticism". At this point I began thinking back to their previous albums to guess which first song they would play next. But they threw me for a loop by playing two songs off their CD "The Photo Album" not slated number one on the album: "We Laugh Indoors" and "Why You'd Want to Live Here". All four songs were excellent and the song's sound was amazing. Also I think both Torpor were somewhat taken back by the level of intensity of the band. For a band that has received the worship of fictional upper class kids in Southern California, the band rocked harder than many bands I have seen out at the local amphitheater, even the bands where you have to have a mullet to get into the door. The two songs from "The Photo Album" are found in their live version on the excellent "The John Byrd E.P."

My two favorite songs on "Tranatlanticism" also served as the night's highlight and lowlight. The band played the hardest rocking song on that album, "We Looked Like Giants" in the middle of the show. Although the song is about four minutes long on the CD, the band played around a twelve minute version last night. In mid jam mode a second drum set was brought to the middle of the stage. The lead singer, Benjamin Gibbard, played the second drum in unison with the lead drummer. The last song of the night and encore was "Transatlanticism", which is the title track from their previous CD. The song is a seven minute epic that begins very slow and then builds with intensity. The live version didn't do this build up justice and in fact, sounded very uneven to me. Also there was some weird instrumental special effect that distracted away from the song. Although disappointed it still sounded good but in comparison to the near flawless performance by the band, it served as the only song that didn't match the quality of the recordings on their CD. The band played nearly straight through for a hour and forty-five minutes.

If you haven't every given Death Cab a listen, they are definitely worth checking out. Even if you aren't a Southern California kid driving a Range Rover and reading comic books on the side, they won't disappoint.


Blogger Timmy said...

I love them. I wish I could have went! Sounds like an awesome show.

I am sure you and Torpor know where the name of the band came case your readers dont, I think its an interesting fact to share. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour movie had Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band perform a song called Death Cab for Cutie. You can see the video here!

November 16, 2006  
Blogger cinnamon said...

Bollucks!! I didn't work last night :( I hope they treated you nicely.

November 16, 2006  
Anonymous lawgeekgurl said...

I love Death Cab, though they are moderately depressing (I challenge you to listen to "The Sound of Settling" without immediately wanting to go crawl under a rock somewhere afterward). I like The Decembrists also, from Portland. There are a lot of good bands out of the pacific northwest - I think it's probably the result of the kids needing something to do as it's raining all the freaking time here.

November 16, 2006  
Blogger lemming said...

Wonderful review - I've never see the OC or heard the bank, and I have nothing like Topor's excuse...

November 18, 2006  

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