June 7, 2011
El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
The line to get into the Death Cab for Cutie show at El Rey Theatre stretched out nearly to the end of the block on Wilshire Boulevard, as those lucky enough to get tickets waited impatiently to get in and those not-so-lucky stood on the sidewalks hoping for a miracle to get into the sold-out show.
Those who did make it in were treated with a rare performance at an intimate venue from a band who primarily play in larger venues and music festivals nowadays.
Before embarking on a world tour for their latest album, Codes and Keys, the Seattle-based band performed a lengthy set that highlighted their best songs across a span of seven albums.
Slowly easing the audience into the new songs, the band started off the nearly two hour set with classics like “Title Track,” “The New Year” and “Photo Booth.” Playing those songs first created a sense of familiarity and comfort that only made the audience eager to find out what other songs the band would play for the rest of the night.
The show felt especially unique as the setlist seemed to cater to the City of Angels. The crowd roared with LA pride when Ben Gibbard sang the first few lines, “I'm in Los Angeles today, it smells like an airport runway. Jet fuel stenches in the cabin and lights flickering at random.” from song “Why You'd Want To Live Here,” which doesn't exactly portray the city in a positive light. The mood was more somber when “Grapevine Fires,” a song off the album Narrow Stairs reminded everyone about the series of wildfires that caused so much damage and devastation throughout the state in 2007.
Ever the gentlemen, Gibbard would thank the audience and ask if we were doing okay in between songs. Before starting “I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” Gibbard remarked that he often wondered his bandmates were doing whenever he was onstage alone; they were probably having fun without him. The banter brought out chuckles from the audience.
Perhaps not quite familiar with Codes and Keys yet, the crowd seemed to be more into the older material than the new. At times, the mood of the venue had a sense of community to it as fans old and new sang their hearts out with Gibbard to songs like “Soul Meets Body” and “The Sound of Settling.” Or maybe it was because they recognized that the special occasion would be something that only they would remember and share together for a long time to come.
Critic's Bias: I've been a long time fan and certain songs still evoke bittersweet memories and emotions for me.
The Crowd: Old-school DCFC fans versus fans who heard of the band when Seth Cohen name dropped them on television show The O.C.
Overheard: Guy in charge of guest list who couldn't find the name after awhile: “Who put you on the list?” Irked indie boy: “Umm, Ben Gibbard did.”
The New Year
Why You'd Want To Live Here
What Sarah Said
I Will Possess Your Heart
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
You Are a Tourist
Underneath The Sycamore
A Movie Script Ending
Soul Meets Body
The Sound of Settling
Stay Young, Go Dancing
Title and Registration