Death Cab For Cutie @ The Paramount 05.13.12

May 13, 2012

I've never loved a girl that didn't love Death Cab For Cutie. And after tonight, I'm not sure I want to.  Everyone from Bellingham to Olympia and everywhere in between has their own story with the band. Be it love at first listen, a slow grow, or a disdain from the depths of their b eing. Mine started with the latter and over the course of 9 shows, 10 years, several run in's, and a few moments that put them in a center stage role, I've come to not only understand, but truly adore the band. I ended a relationship at their 2008 Bumbershoot headlining set, started a new on e at last years surprise warm up show at the Showbox (eerily happening almost a year to the day) and tonight found myself alone at the Paramount, which gave me time to go over the details, look around and realize that I can't be the only one who's grown up alongside these guys and made the connection on such a personal level. DCFC aren't just a group of hometown-hero, local-boys-done-good, Death Cab for many of us are the soundtrack to our adolescent development, the musical response to all our muted indescribable emotions, be it through Ben's lyrics or Nick, Chris, and Jason's ability to shape the songs into transcending arrangements that stay with us, year after year, and year again. And that's what made tonight's show so special. Was that no matter how many times you've seen them, 1, 2, 5, 100, you'd never seen them quite like this.

The Magik Magik orchestra are no accidental discovery for the tour, responsible for the string sounds you hear on the bands latest, Codes and Keys, Ben touched on the friendship that blossomed from a few arrangements to a full tour, and even to the future, speaking from the stage of how the experience changed them all and what they thought possible with their sound (giving this writer, and likely the rest of you a lot of hope for that next record that we'll hear... well, someday anyway.) The show however, dwelled less on the future, a bit on the present, and delved heavily into the past, digging out cuts that rarely if ever before have made it onto setlists. The previously unfairly ignored "Passenger Seat" began after a brief overture (to cries of "holy shit, holy shit!" on my twitter) and the tone of the night was clearly announced and set. Here's a band that's championed arenas across the world, grown from Bellingham backbars into TV and Soundtrack-checked household name giants, and they're not beyond or above re-examining what got them there in the first place, vulnerability. Stepping away from the hits, the comfort of fast paced big chorus', and inviting you into the evening with the same slow uneasiness they might have had tackling such an ambitious concept. 

But as big gambles go, those who play them well, are rewarded with big wins. And that's what these four gentlemen walked away with tonight. A brilliantly dynamic set drawing from some of the deepest "We Have The Facts" and "Transatlanticism" cuts, intersplicing career touchstones, nods to tracks that helped establish, and might have reeled in many of the (unusually good looking) people in attendance, and stabbing us in the heart over and over with each new surprise twist and turn (Death of an Interior Decorator??, No Joy in Mudville!?!). The band graced the stage for nearly an hour and fourty five minutes of emotionally charged charisma, heartache, excitement, and above all else passion. Which pushed into the crowd, was met with cries of adoration at the end of each track, and a polite silence akin to most opera's while the songs unfolded themselves before us. Abandoning the orchestra only once briefly during the main set for a quick run of "Crooked Teeth", and again for an acoustic run of tracks including covers of The Velvet Underground, and "Your Heart is an Empty Room". Tying the evening in a bow with twin downers, "Tiny Vessels" (an unusually ferocious and gutting version which found Nick and Chris dually armed on bass duty) and the set-closer staple "Transatlanticism". By the time the lights came up and the band waved their final goodbyes it was a bittersweet moment. After a fantastic set, a classic performance, many tracks of love, and many more of loss, the crowd spilled out into the streets and into their cars, or wherever they were headed, and where they will go, it's clear Death Cab will continue to be there, and continue to touch a nerve with nights like this, where performances aren't so much about who's there, or what you're expecting and hoping to see and hear, but how they continue to resonate in whatever way they know how, in that warm little hole in your chest that emotion lives in.