Tag Archives: Death Cab For Cutie

Live review: Death Cab For Cutie plays a no-frills affair at Gonzaga

Death Cab For Cutie

If this set was any indication of things to come when Death Cab ends its current tour July 18 and 19 with two shows at Marymoor Park in Redmond then local fans with tickets to those shows are in for a treat.

The biggest band to ever come from Bellingham played one of the better sets I’ve seen them perform at Gonzaga University (which is saying a lot because I think I have seen DCFC at least a dozen times) last month. The set was a no-frills affair containing just about every song a casual and die-hard Death Cab fan would want to hear without digging too deep into their catalog.

I don’t think there were any notable songs missing (although I don’t recall hearing “Crooked Teeth”) as the band played it safe with the song selection for its set list. An early surprise was “We Laugh Indoors,” which came three songs into the show. The band decided to show off its rarely seen rock star side during the song with Ben Gibbard stepping on effect pedals while hunched over and shaking his guitar for extra reverb punch while Nick Harmer paraded around the stage looking amazingly badass while rocking the eff out on his bass.

Like I said, the rock star side of Death Cab is rarely seen, but when they pull it out it works well and it was nice to see them stray from the simple standing-in-place-while-playing-music mode they tend to fall into. Just because Death Cab rocked the eff out doesn’t mean they got rid of their Death Cab tendencies. So don’t worry, Gibbard still metronomically sways from side to side while singing.

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Jason McGerr of Death Cab For Cutie on Bumbershoot, touring and unreleased Death Cab

Jason McGerr by musicisentropy

The last time Death Cab For Cutie played a show in Washington they were kings of the rock ‘n’ roll world, triumphantly celebrating the success of their latest album “Narrow Stairs” with a headlining set at Bumbershoot last year.

The show capped a great year for Death Cab that saw the band rack up its first No. 1 record on the Billboard charts (“Narrow Stairs”) and more or less completed the group’s transformation from a group of indie kids only trendy scenesters knew about to a full-blown, stadium-packing rock band.

Just how much of a full-blown, stadium-packing rock band has Death Cab become? The set ended with a pyrotechnic punctuation mark of golden showers of sparks raining down on the stage during the close of “Transatlanticism.”

“I had my back turned to it so I didn’t have the opportunity to turn around and take it in. I saw a few YouTube clips of it but I don’t think that does it justice,” Jason McGerr, Death Cab’s drummer, said during a tour stop in Chicago last week.

He said the group didn’t take the decision to try something different, and unexpected, lightly.

“You’ve got to walk a fine line between cred and over the top. You want to give a show and you want to send people home with some sort of memory of a great performance rather than do the same thing every time. We have played so many shows in Seattle, between playing Sasquatch at the end of the Plans tour and paying KeyArena and doing a couple of Paramount shows, when the idea of doing a little bit of pyro and sparks came up we were like ‘Sure, why not give it a shot?’ ”

The end result created one of those powerful concert experiences where the audience knew they were witnessing something special while it was happening.

“What I do remember that I will never forget is the look on people’s faces in the front row when that thing went off. They went from elated to uber-elated. You could tell a lot of kids had never probably been exposed to anything like that because they had only been going to concerts for three years or four years. If you’d seen a KISS show and were at the Death Cab concert you were probably pretty unimpressed. But for people that don’t usually get to see things like that I think it was pretty epic,” McGerr said.

Ben Gibbard at Bumbershoot by Steven Friederich

The band is currently on the tail end of the touring cycle behind “Narrow Stairs,” and has closed the “Stairs” chapter with the release of an EP titled “The Open Door.”

“We knew we were going to tour regardless. The timing of the EP was such that it would be nice if it came together around the tour and we made it happen that way,” McGerr said. “The songs were mostly done … It all started the same time as ‘Narrow Stairs.’ They weren’t b-list songs or afterthoughts. We sought to record 20 songs for the album and we knew a few would get widdled away.”

Although the four new songs on “The Open Door” got cut from “Stair’s” final track list, the band kept them in mind for possible release down the road.

“We knew these songs would have a home at some point and we kept them close to our heart and the idea of an EP came together around last fall. We thought it would be great to let the world know there is another component to the ‘Narrow Stairs’ era before this album cycle is done.”

Does that mean there is more unreleased Death Cab material from sessions for past records that could be released in the future?

“I think if a person looks hard enough between everything that has been released in the U.S. and maybe Japanese B-sides and comps you could probably put together a fairly extensive list of Death Cab material. If I said there was some long, lost collection of songs out there I’d be lying,” said McGerr.

The band’s tour includes four shows in Washington including a sold-out show that is happening in Bellingham at the Mt. Baker Theater as I write this. McGeer grew up in Bellingham and said the show will mean a lot to him.

“Playing Mt Baker Theatre, which is somewhere I went a lot to see shows, although they were mainly theater productions, is really exciting for me. Especially playing there in the middle of the tour when we’ve hit our stride,” he said.

The other three home state shows include a trip across the state where they will perform at Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center Friday night with Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids (7 p.m.; $35) and two back-to-back shows at Redmond’s Marymoor Park July 18 and 19 with the New Pornographers and Ra Ra Riot (7 p.m.; $35) that end the tour.

Since the last time Death Cab played in Seattle they surprised fans with fireworks, does the band have any tricks up its sleeve for the Marymoor concerts?

“We’re trying to think big for the next time around in Seattle at the end of July. But I don’t know we’ll see what happens,” McGerr said.

And on the fifth day, I rested


I spent the last few days in a hectic state of musical bliss that involved traveling 350 miles, watching nine bands (and being somewhat blown away by one of them while stumbling across another great local group to boot), interviewing a rock star, celebrating the awesomeness that was Record Store Day and hitting up the Experience Music Project’s annual Pop Conference.

I am taking the next 24 hours off to recuperate, but in the meantime here is a listing of some of what you’ll be reading about the rest of the week here:

Portugal. The Man is the best band you aren’t listening to. Find out why I just made that bold declaration in the upcoming review of Portugal. The Man’s show at the Crocodile with H is For Hellgate and Alligators

Death Cab For Cutie is playing in Spokane Friday night at Gonzaga with Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids. Ear Candy chatted with Death Cab’s Jason McGeer about headlining Bumbershoot, the band’s new EP and the prospect of unreleased Death Cab being released from the Death Cab vault.

The Moondoggies played a few free shows in Seattle during the weekend. All three were completely different from one another in atmosphere and sound. Read about two of those sets soon.

The Pitchfork lovers orgasm double bill of The Black Kids and Mates of State played Neumos Friday. Their opener, a band out of San Francisco called Judgment Day, took me by surprise.

Saturday was Record Store Day and I felt like a kid on Christmas at the Queen Anne Easy Street Records purchasing lots of limited-edition candy for my ears in the form of some great vinyl.

Saturday was also the third day of EMP’s Pop Conference. Unfortunately I was only able to attend on day, but man the things I learned and the panelists I heard speak were fantastic. My brain hurts (in a good way) just thinking about all the cool conversations that I had the privilege to listen to during my 7 hours at PopCon 2009.

The weekend was capped off by dropping by El Croazon for a late-night set by Texas’ own The Toadies. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole show, but during the 75 minutes I was there they played almost everything off "Rubberneck."

So that’s what you’ll be reading about from me pretty soon. How soon? Well, that all depends on how much free time I have to write and how much I can write without getting exhausted again. In fact, I’m getting pretty tired right now just thinking about writing all of this so I am going to stop writing now.

Death Cab to release new EP, coming to Marymoor Park with New Pornographers this summer

It’s looking like it is going to be a busy year for everyone’s favorite indie kids from Bellingham, Death Cab For Cute. The band will digitally release an EP containing new material titled “The Open Door” on March 31. The five-song release will include four unreleased tracks from the “Narrow Stairs” sessions and a demo of the “Narrow Stairs” track “Talking Bird” with Ben Gibbard singing while playing a ukulele. The EP will see physical distribution on April 14 and be available on the band’s upcoming spring tour.

Speaking of playing live shows, Death Cab is about to embark on a spring tour. The tour will bring the band to Spokane on April 24 and it will also bring the band back home to Bellingham on April 22. Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids are opening both dates and I will be at the Spokane show to fill you in on what it’s like to catch Death Cab in the eastern part of the state.

After the band is through with its spring jaunt the boys have some pretty big summer plans too. Those plans include, yup you guessed it, more touring. Show info after the jump.

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Death Cab, PUSA jump on the iPhone app bandwagon

John Cook over on his Venture Blog dropped a post about some business news regarding everyone’s favorite feather-pluckin’ insane trio, Presidents of the Unites States of America.

What’s the news? Well, PUSA has an iPhone app for sale on the Apple App Store.

From Cook’s blog post:

The $2.99 app offers full-tracks from four albums as well as the “lost recordings” from the band’s 10-song demo album FroggyStyle. Will we see more bands following suit with iPhone apps? You can count on it.

“The Presidents of the United States of America, always innovative in their instrumentation, songwriting and DIY business operations, are proud to be the first indie artist to offer their own iPhone app,” says the application description. In addition to songs from albums like “Peaches” and “Kitty,” the app features live tracks and “other oddball stuff.” Users also can take part in the “Presidential Shuffle” in order to mix up the music a bit.

I have yet to check out the PUSA app, but I did recently download the free application from Death Cab For Cutie. The application is a close mirror of the band’s Web site in many ways. It offers more than a dozen videos (including live clips and rehearsal footage), a song from each record, tour dates, band news and more.

As mentioned, the DCFC app is free so I made sure to download it, but I am a little hesitant to spend $3 on the PUSA app. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Presidents but I am not sure if it has anything worthwhile that I can’t get online for free. However, the “Froggystyle” album demo might be worth the purchase price.

Regardless, the DCFC app is pretty nifty (Did I just type call something nifty? Wow, I must be getting old.) and seeing a band without major label support like PUSA release an iPhone app is a promising sign that more bands could release applications in the future.

Death Cab For Cutie has its video removed from its Web site by its label

Yesterday a video posted to Death Cab For Cuties’ Web site was disabled, apparently due to copyright issues with Warner Bros. Records.

The label recently asked YouTube to remove videos on its site that has music from its artists because of possible copyright infringement. The video on DCFC’s site that was removed was a YouTube clip.

You can read the report of the DCFC video being taken down here.

Deck The Hall Ball feat. Daeth Cab, The Killers, Cold War Kids, presale info

The End’s annual Deck The Hall Ball is scheduled for Dec. 9 at WaMu Theater and will include some heavy hitters featured on modern rock radio playlists.

Here’s who will be there:

The Killers
Death Cab For Cutie
Cold War Kids
Shiny Toy Guns

The tickets cost $42.50 a pop and the presale begins Thursday at 12:01 a.m. The presale password is “theend” and you can find the presale tix here.

Photo gallery: Bumbershoot 2008

My good buddy Steven Friederich took a bunch of photos while at Bumbershoot (for some reason I didn’t even think to ask for a photo pass).

Below is a gallery of some of the bands he shot, including: Death Cab, Flobots, Ingrid Michaelson, Jakob Dylan, The Offspring, The Maldives, Superchunk, Sweetwater, Thao, and The Hands. You can see more of his pictures here.



Bumbershoot 2008 Day 3: Death Cab For Cutie and Superchunk

I posted my Death Cab/Superchunk review on my other blog earlier this morning (I’m not reposting it here because it is property of the P-I).

As expected, Death Cab delivered the goods and it was a great show. The jist of what I wrote is that it seems like Death Cab has grown up and is no longer your favorite indie band next door.

You can read the review in full by clicking here.