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Concert review: Death Cab For Cutie

Concert review: Death Cab For Cutie

By John Clyde | Posted - Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.



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WEST VALLEY CITY -- Death Cab For Cutie took the stage Monday night at the Maverik Center in West Valley City and despite a half empty arena and a few mistakes the band wowed with as much energy and enthusiasm as ever.

Death Cab is known for its melodic beats and hypnotizing lyrics and one may assume from listening to their albums that a live show wouldn't carry the punch you would usually hope for when heading to a rock concert. But if one band knows how to deliver a rock concert that is all about the music, that band is Death Cab For Cutie.

The band exposes an energy to their songs you never knew existed. They kicked off the night with their single, "I Will Posses Your Heart" from the album "Narrow Stairs." After a five minute intro, that did not seem one second too long, they started into the song that started the concert off strong and set the tone for the night.

While the band played several songs from their latest album, "Codes and Keys," like "You Are a Tourist," "Doors Unlocked and Opened," and "Underneath the Sycamore," they also played several songs that some of the crowd probably didn't recognize.

Ben Gibbard
Ben Gibbard

The band delved deep into their catalogue and played song like "Pictures in an Exhibition" from their debut album, "Something About Airplanes" and "405" from their sophomore effort "We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes."

One of the treats of the evening was hearing the band play "Why You'd Want to Live Here" from their third album "The Photo Album." The entire song literally asks the question why you would ever want to live in Los Angeles. The crowd went crazy as front-man Ben Gibbard spewed the last lines of the song, "You can't swim in a town this shallow, you will most assuredly drown tomorrow."

The band also played some fan favorites like "Soul Meets Body," "The New Year," and one of the first songs on the set list, "Crooked Teeth."

The acoustics in the Maverik Center were not ideal and the half empty arena left a lot to be desired, but the band didn't seem to mind. They gave it their all and truly seemed to enjoy every minute of it. Gibbard was almost in constant movement as he swayed and shook his head to the beats and bassist Nick Hammer has quite possibly perfected the "power stance." It's surprising the arena was so sparse considering Death Cab's popularity here in the state and their history of selling out shows at Red Butte, Thanksgiving Point and The McKay Events center.

Gibbard took a moment to thank the fans and recalled when they first played in Salt Lake City 11 years ago in a much smaller venue, Kilby Court. Gibbard said ever since their first trip here they have loved coming to the city. With that his band-mates fled the stage and he dedicated a brilliant, flawless version of "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" to Salt Lake. The crowd sang along, but almost seemed to stop at one point to just enjoy the moment.

Album artwork from Codes and Keys
Album artwork from Codes and Keys

The band finished their set with "We Looked Like Giants" which was one of the highlights of the night. Guitarist Chris Walla and bassist Nick Hammer switched instruments as Walla played that unforgettable bass riff. As I watched the band and the crowd I'm not sure who was more into it. The crowd was bouncing and singing along, but I believe the edge goes to the energy on the stage. Watching Walla jump from bass, to piano to guitar and Hammer go from guitar to bass was just a blast to see. At one point during the song a small drum set was set up on the stage and Gibbard had a bit of a drumming duel with drummer Jason McGeer that set the crowd and the stage on fire.

The band took a short break and returned for an encore playing "Pictures in an Exhibition" and "Stay Young Go Dancing" before finishing the night with the building tension of the title track from their Gold album, "Transatlanticism." The song was the perfect ending to the night which kicked off with an energetic and fun opening band, "Frightened Rabbit," and finishing with a bang from a grateful Death Cab For Cutie. After the show Gibbard tweeted, "What a phenomenal crowd in SLC tonight. U guys know how to bring it! It's always amazing here. "

Did you get a chance to see the show? What did you think? And why was the Maverik Center so empty? Why do you think people didn't come out for this show like they have their past shows? Give us your opinion of the night on our comment boards and on Facebook.

E-mail: jclyde@ksl.com

Video from Death Cab For Cutie's show opener, "I Will Posses Your Heart," and of Frightened Rabbbit playing, "Backwards Walk" at the Maverik Center Aug. 22

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John Clyde

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