With a simple "Good evening" from Ben Gibbard, Death Cab wasted no time launching into the show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The long-winding intro to "I Will Possess Your Heart" teased the crowd to what was to come with the set. The last time the band was in St. Paul playing the Roy Wilkins, it was a rare show that was not sold out; perhaps due to the fact that it was at Roy Wilkins, notorious for its (horrible) sound. This time, the side seating of the venue was curtained off, either for acoustic or promotional reasons.
The band jumped around with their music selections, bouncing to "Crooked Teeth" and then burrowing into "We Laugh Indoors" off The Photo Album and The Forbidden Love's "Photobooth," creating a set that was equally divided amongst their album catalog.
The band sampled most of their radio hits, along with pieces off their latest release Codes and Keys, a strong album that connects the group's core sound, yet takes some risks that allows them to expand from the usual Death Cab material. My friend and I discussed their new sound before the show, and he claimed that it was too bright and cheerful. My verdict was that Ben Gibbard is recently wed--of course it's going to reflect his happy new life. Especially with their new material, a la "Codes and Keys" and "You Are a Tourist," Death Cab has proven their talent for creating quality albums and translating those pieces live, creating a lush and ornate sound.
In most bands, bassists get the short end of the stick when being recognized, but you cannot listen to Death Cab without appreciating--especially on songs from Plans--Nick Harmer's walking bass lines.
Questioning the crowd on how many amongst them had seen the band at First Ave three months prior, Ben Gibbard added, "We made sure we made a set list that was different than before. Cause that's how we do it." Of course at a venue as intimate as First Ave, the concert experience would trump a venue that Gibbard explained, "feels like the gym from the movie Hoosiers." The light show, however, took Friday night to a whole different level than that First Ave show.
Call me a sucker, but "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" will always be my favorite Death Cab song. It's so simple at its core; stripped down and straightforward, Gibbard's acoustic performance showcased his lyrics and musicianship. With as many songwriters as there are these days, Ben Gibbard surpasses all with his lyrics, never sounding trite or overreaching.
True to their word, the band swapped their set from their last Twin Cities show, including songs like "President of What?" and "A Movie Script Ending," and changing up "We Looked Like Giants" by including a second drum kit and allowing Gibbard to impress with his percussion skills. "Transatlanticism" was a perfect closing number, beginning with Ben at the piano, illusory and musing, slowly building to a full band narration.
On the whole, Death Cab For Cutie performed an impressive set, as they do every time I have seen them. This band will never be one to "phone it in," always giving their all in every performance. Although I enjoyed the First Ave show more, Roy Wilkins was more than competent at hosting Death Cab for the last night of the tour.
Critic's Bias: I would attend every possible Death Cab show "come hell or high water." "Come hell" almost happened at their last show due to it being on the same day as the supposed Rapture (May 21, 2011).
The crowd: Mixture of people from suburbanites to hipsters and young teens.
Overheard in the crowd: "He's so awkward," on Ben Gibbard's dancing.
Random notebook dump: It's difficult to dance to Death Cab's music, and although I know that everyone enjoyed the music, the crowd looked a bit zombie-like. Maybe the Rapture did happen...
I Will Possess Your Heart
We Laugh Indoors
Doors Unlocked and Open
Codes and Keys
I Will Follow You Into the Dark
You Are a Tourist
The New Year
A Movie Script Ending
President of What?
Soul Meets Body
We Looked Like Giants
Marching Bands of Manhattan
Stay Young, Go Dancing
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