telling minor stories to avoid a major one

Seriously Serious Concert No. 5: Death Cab for Cutie, Cold War Kids, 4/9/09 by Barbecue Bros
April 11, 2009, 4:29 pm
Filed under: Concert review, photography | Tags: , ,

If I count SXSW as one concert (even though we saw 14 bands in two days), this past show was number five in the Seriously Serious concert season (trademark pending). This past Thursday, we took the short drive up I-77 to Davidson College and got on the campus a little after 8pm.

A couple of things I didn’t expect once we got to Belk Arena: for openers Ra Ra Riot to have started so soon after the 7:30 doors open (we arrived just as they finished their last song) and for there not to be any alcohol sold at the concert (talk about an actual buzz kill). Though I gotta admit not selling alcohol shouldn’t have been a shocker to us, being on a college campus and all. Also, sadly there were no Stephen Curry sightings; not sure if he’s a fan of Death Cab though.

After doing some hustling and getting to go down onto the arena floor (the event staff of college kids were a little disorganized), we quickly realize that we weren’t gonna be able to muscle our way up towards the front too much. We also quickly realized just how old we felt compared to the college kids in attendance. I was just hoping we wouldn’t be called out for being a potential narc, and thankfully the kids spared us any embarrassment.

After a roadie who looked a bit too much like Charles Manson for my taste did the requisite mic check, Cold War Kids manned the stage. Earlier that day, I had looked up the video for “Hospital Beds” and saw what the band looked like; I was interested to see that the lead singer looked like this:

and not more along the lines of this:

…which was what I had assumed he would look like, considering the dramatic vocals of many of the band’s songs. Cold War Kids hit all the songs I expected them to – the wildly popular (and apparently recently “Gossip Girl” approved) “Hang Me Out to Dry” and “We Used to Vacation” from Robbers & Cowards and “Mexican Dogs,” “Something is Not Right with Me” and “Dreams Old Men Dream” from Loyalty to Loyalty. The lead singer would switch it up between piano and guitar throughout the show, all the while the bass and guitar players careened back and forth across the stage. And as I had been hoping, they ended the energetic set with “Hospital Beds.” I came away still liking them quite a bit.

Death Cab for Cutie came on after a pretty short break, to the unexpected sight of a very slight Ben Gibbard with long-ish hair. I think we all either thought in our head or made a comment aloud about him shaping up for his recent fiancee, the adorable Zooey Deschanel.

+ =

Since I last saw Death Cab for Cutie some 7 years ago at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, they have certainly stepped up their live show. At the very least they had 3 more albums worth of material, but I wasn’t expecting them to have the big arena light setup:




etc. etc. etc.

As expected, they hit several songs off last year’s Narrow Stairs as well as Plans, Transatlantacism, and The Photo Album. They also reached all the way back to We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, playing Avent favorite “Company Calls.” Set highlights for me were “The New Year,” “Sound of Settling,” “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” “Long Division” and a very moody “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The acoustic version of “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” was especially nice, with just a single spotlight on Ben playing the guitar.

The band played one encore with a new song off their recent EP as well as “Soul Meets Body” before ending with a transcendant version of “Transatlantacism.” Not being familiar with their recent setlists, I had been hoping they would end with that song, but I’m not sure whether I was on the money or just hoping for the obvious.

All in all a great show despite the actual buzzkill. Though too bad we missed Ra Ra Riot, whom I was pretty interested in hearing. I liked the change of pace in the arena setup and the chance to see a couple of great bands together, but would definitely like to check out any of them again back in a small club setting.

The rest of my photos from the show can be seen here.

Next up: Another arena show in Kings of Leon and The Walkmen (yet another great bill) in Charlotte at the end of the month, though there are potential shows (Southern Culture on the Skids, Dinosaur, Jr.) before then


2 Comments so far
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I love Zooey Deschanel.

Comment by iheartfilm

[…] Houstons – Snug Harbor, Charlotte, NC 3/19 – SXSW – Austin, TX 4/9 – Death Cab for Cutie/Cold War Kids – Davidson College, Davidson, NC 4/24 – Vampire Weekend – Wofford College, […]

Pingback by Lists! 2009: Top 5 Concerts and all of my music purchases « telling minor stories to avoid a major one

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