I have always wanted to see Death Cab for Cutie live. I personally think that their album "Plans" is one of the greatest masterworks ever released by anyone on earth ever (that's such a Hipster thing to say, isn't it?). So when a friend offered me these tickets, even though I have literally zero dollars, I took her up on them and went.
For those unfamiliar, they are a foursome based out of Seattle, WA. They have a straight up serious navel gazing pop vibe, a wonderful sound, and an Everyman kind of lead singer in the wonderfully genteel and slightly aloof looking Ben Gibbard.
As their lead songwriter, his words paint a poignant and exceptional picture of whatever subject he's got in his sights. Whether it is losing a loved one in the hospital, or wildfires, or infidelity, he wordsmiths his way through everything in a clever by half but not so pretentious that you roll your eyes kind of way.
I have a great reluctance to go see a band that sounds so perfect in print and production, that I fear they will both suck and blow when playing live. Some bands just don't have an amazing live presence, or they use autotune and production tricks up the ying yang, which turn into nothing but noise when you see them in concert. It was a fear of mine going into this show.
And it couldn't have been further from the truth.
Sure, they used a few computery tricks of the trade, but on the whole, it was a fantastic and beautiful live performance. Gibbard's "rock star" move is shaking his head back and forth, and it reminded me of being little and trying to make myself dizzy by doing the same thing and looking at myself in a mirror, noting that my hair looked like a mushroom.
There were one or two songs I so desperately wanted to hear that they didn't play ("Summer Skin" was one of them) and they played a song or two that I was bored by. But that sometimes is to be expected. Overall, their amazing presence and their absolute rock star performance was well worth the expense.
And they played songs that I had to hear. When they did "We Looked Like Giants" they went into an amazing jam that lasted forever. Their bassist and drummer are a machine together, and blew the roof off the joint. "Passenger Seat" was so incredibly beautiful and sweet with Ben on the piano alone, and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" with him by himself on guitar, accompanied by everyone in the place was sublime.
And "What Sarah Said" had my entire row in tears.
So my complaint here will be with the venue. Bank of America Pavilion. I've been here several times, and I think after this experience, I will not be back. Each time I've gone, the sound has been muddy, the lighting piss poor, and it has been hotter than hell. I know they don't have control over the temperature but some sort of something blowing air at the crowd would help when it is 100 degrees.
The seats I had were in the back of the arena, and the pitch of the floor is almost non-existent. The person in front of me was my height, not obscenely tall, but I couldn't see anything unless I positioned myself in such a way and hoped that the guy in front of THAT guy didn't move to the left. Not being able to see jack squat while paying over 50 bucks for a shit ticket isn't my idea of fun. People to Jess' left departed before the encore, so we had some spread out space and I got to watch two songs without wrenching my neck or standing on my tip toes.
I'm pretty much not going to go see another show there, unless I'm in the first 10 rows. Or less. And the tickets are free.
That, and BOA has their name and logo all over the joint so I feel filthy dirty when I am in the venue. Feh.
So that was our experience in seeing them. If you're not familiar with Death Cab For Cutie, I highly suggest you get "Plans" and tuck in. Enjoy. They are greatly worth it.