Wednesday, June 25, 2008

death cab for cutie @ the nokia theatre

There's an old concert-going saying: It doesn't matter if you're in a 7,000-seat venue, as long as everyone else is behind you. Truer words were never spoken. On Monday night LMS and I braved the terrifying depths of downtown Los Angeles (where it is possible to pay as much for parking as you paid for your ticket) to see Death Cab for Cutie. I'd never been to the Nokia Theatre before, and gazing outward from the pit, the ambience reminded me vaguely of the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland. Only Aerosmith wasn't playing.

Instead, Rogue Wave opened, and were very good. I like it when opening bands are good. They played an energetic eight-song set spanning all three of their full length albums, ending with a completely epic performance of "Harmonium," the opener of last year's Asleep At Heaven's Gate. I was actually a little sad to see them leave the stage, which says something, considering how much I'd been anticipating the band that was to follow them. (A lot.)

Displaying a flair for the dramatic that I've never been able to resist, Death Cab launched into their set with "Bixby Canyon Bridge" and segued almost seamlessly into "The New Year". From there, it was a bouncy ride through their six-album discography, with emphasis on Narrow Stairs but also including back-to-back performances of "Company Calls" and "Company Calls Epilogue" from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes and, obligatorily, the anti-L.A. anthem "Why You'd Want to Live Here". I also feel the need to point out that they played "Long Division," but not "Your New Twin Sized Bed".1

If I have any grievances, it's that the band hardly paused between songs to catch their breath, let alone amuse us with stupid banter. Stupid banter is one of the primary reasons that I go to shows (and it's not like Death Cab doesn't have a sense of humor). And maybe this is inevitable by the time you've seen a band three or four times, but nothing in the set seemed very novel or exciting...until the encore. All my petty complaints were forgotten during the encore. They played "Wait". For the uninitiated and/or non-completists and/or people who are saner than me, that's the Secret Stars cover on You Can Play These Songs With Chords, which they also played earlier in the day on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. It made my night.

1I have this theory about the new album, which is that there are people who like "Long Divison," and there are people who like "Your New Twin Sized Bed," and they do not overlap. At all. I'm a "Long Division" person; LMS is a "Twin Sized Bed" person. But we're still friends.
Note from LMS: True. But I think I might have had a conversion experience.

mp3: "Marching Bands of Manhattan (Live)" by Death Cab for Cutie
mp3: "Title and Registration (Original)" by Death Cab for Cutie
mp3: "Like I Needed" by Rogue Wave

4 comments:

Dan said...

I was at the same show. Unfortunately I arrived too late to see Rogue Wave. I thought the concert was great but I agree, I like a little banter (but not too much). Ben tried at one point, if you recall, but he failed miserably (what was it he was talking about, I can't recall).

michelle said...

I was in the pit as well and when I turned around to check out out the venue I totally got the Space Mountain vibe. Even more so during the show when the houselights were down. I half expected to see a hidden Mickey somewhere.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with your theory though. I love both Long Division and Your New Twin Sized Bed (along with the rest of the record).

As for the banter, Ben was rather less taciturn in Santa Barbara the next night.

matt said...

something about the triangle theory? I think it had something to do with promoting the CD, but it was already number one on the billboard charts so I don't see how much more he can expect haha. This was my second Death Cab show, the first was right after Plans hit stores in the summer of 2006, I went down to San Diego to see him play and I must say that show was far superior. By the way, I'm a New Twin Sized Bed kid. For some reason I can't stand Long Division, I think it has something to do with the fact that I was bad at math.

michelle said...

Ben was talking about pyramid schemes. I can't see where he went wrong with THAT topic.