Twenty years ago while browsing the magazine rack at a local Borders book store I picked up a the March 1999 CMJ New Music Monthly as it had an article on the state of rock music five years after the death of Kurt Cobain. The great thing about CMJ New Music Monthly was that each issue had a compilation CD in it. One of those tracks was Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘President of What?’ off of their debut album ‘Something About Airplanes’ that was released the previous August. Twenty years, 9 albums, and 7 Grammy nominations later I am still a massive fan.
Drenched in blue lights the band opened with ‘I Dreamt We Spoke Again’ and ‘Summer Years’ both tracks off their ninth studio album ‘Thank You for Today’. Lead singer Ben Gibbard playfully teased the crowd during the build up towards the end of ‘No Sunlight’ by going back and forth towards the microphone saying ‘No’ and continuing the dizzying buildup and finally ending with the final ‘Anymore’. Gibbard set his guitar aside and went to the piano for ‘What Sarah Said’ off of 2005’s ‘Plains’.
During ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’s ’ slow buildup fans really started getting into the show swaying side to side and clapping to the beat. Gibbard did double duty playing both guitar and piano over the corse of the song. After finishing ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’ Gibbard said ‘I want to dedicate this song to anyone who saw us at the Creepy Crawl’. Several fans cheered and Gibbard quickly chimed in ‘It wasn’t that many people,’ before launching into ‘Title Track’ off of 2000’s ‘We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes’. It was also the oldest song the band played tonight. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to have seen them at the Creepy Crawl but did get to see them at a sold out show at Mississippi Nights shortly after the release of their break out album ‘Transatlanticism’.
Many fans know that many of Death Cab for Cutie’s songs are based in real life events. Gibbard even told the crowd ‘There are times in life when you go there tough times and I think to myself maybe I’ll get a song out of it. This is one of those songs.’ Before playing ‘Black Sun’, a song many suspect was written about ex-wife Zooey Deschanel.
The night ended with ‘Soul Meets Body’. As soon as the first note was played the place erupted. Fans were singing and clapping along and could be hear over the band during the ‘Ba-da-ba-da-ba-ba’ parts of the song.
Gibbard came back out by himself for the first song of the encore bathed in beams of orange light and played a solo version of ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark’. Everyone in Stifel Theatre was singing in unison and Gibbard stopped singing and continued to play for parts of the song. It was a perfect night for Indie music turned mainstream.
I Dreamt We Spoke Again
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
Title and Registration
What Sarah Said
60 & Punk
I Will Possess Your Heart
You Are a Tourist
We Looked Like Giants
Soul Meets Body
I Will Follow You into the Dark (Ben solo)
When We Drive