On the first night of their spring tour, Death Cab for Cutie played to a sold-out crowd of almost 2,400 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver.
Ben Gibbard and company were not alone in this endeavor. In addition to opening act, Lowe, Death Cab was joined onstage by the string group Magik*Magik Orchestra. Following the completion of the performance by Lowe, the red velvet curtain slowly rose to reveal a beautiful blue.
Death Cab for Cutie performs for a sold-out crowd at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. (CU Independent/Patrick Fort)
The Magik*Magik Orchestra took the stage and began playing a slow chorale. Shortly after, Gibbard sat down at his piano and without a word played the opening chords of fan favorite “Passenger Seat.” As the crowd sang along, the strings swelled into cacophonous roar but soon stopped dead, to allow Gibbard to begin “Different Names for the Same Thing.” The other three members of Death Cab for Cutie joined Gibbard to finish the song. With a complete lineup, the band was able to play some of its classic songs.
The simple drum pattern that begins “A Movie Script Ending” filled the packed opera house, and the trademark guitar work of Chris Walla floated above Nick Harmer’s original bass tone. The crowd remained quiet and merely got out of their seats to sway rather than sing. After this quick introduction to the show, the band took a break to introduce themselves to the audience. Dressed in all black, the band was seemingly ready for a funeral, but as Gibbard said, the band “couldn’t get any more formal. I feel like we should be speaking in English accents.”
After a few songs from 2008’s “Narrow Stairs,” Death Cab began to play songs from their newest release, “Codes and Keys.” This finally got the crowd moving and singing along. The audience seemed confused about how to act in the venue. It is not usually appropriate to sing and dance in an opera house, even though one of the most influential indie rock bands was up on the stage.
Death Cab for Cutie reached way back into their music catalog to play songs from “You Can Play These Songs with Chords” and “Something About Airplanes.” The band began what may have been its most popular song to non-fans in an un-traditional fashion. With stacatto strings, the mandolin introduction of “Soul Meets Body” was replaced with finger-picked violins, resulting in one of the best songs of the night.
After a short break, the band returned to the stage for their encore, an almost entirely acoustic set. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” was laced with the beautiful strings of the orchestra, and “Tiny Vessels” was still as intense as when it was released nine years ago. With its final song, Death Cab chose to extend the already gorgeous “Transatlanticism” to an intense 11 minutes. With the reverberating snare drum starting the song off as it does on the album (of the same name), Gibbard once again took his seat at the piano and began to croon over Walla’s simple guitar riffs. The crescendo of the song also increased in tempo and soon stopped completely, simply leaving Gibbard to yell, “Come on” in the reprise of the song.
Death Cab for Cutie showed why they are as influential as they when they formed over a decade ago. The only issue with the performance was the venue. Despite being a beautiful hall, the crowd did not seem to know what to do. But besides the crowd confusion, Death Cab for Cutie did not disappoint and stunned the audience their unforgettable music.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Patrick Fort at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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