Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Sound of Settling (For Blah Indie Rock)

“I cursed myself for being surprised that this didn’t play like it did in my mind” Ben Gibbard sang on the opening song, “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” at Death Cab for Cutie’s concert in Columbia, MO on May 31st.  I could relate to him with the utmost earnestness, except on a completely different level. While Ben sang about a romantic relationship lost, I felt a musical one depleting. Amongst the screams of girls resounding the hackneyed concert yell, “I love you _______.” I thought to myself, “Why the hell am I here?”

Before the show, my fellow concertgoer, and I stopped for some pizza at a local place, Gumby’s. I ate all I could, then took the pizza to the car, only to realize that rain was coming down heavier than any piece of shitty metalcore anyone could ever find. We ran to the venue, and it was outside, so we didn’t give a shit about being wet. We got there, and waited and waited and waited, because the rain had stopped the roadies from getting the gear set up. Drenched, I told my friend, “This better be a hell of a good show.” Oh how disappointed I would be.

Granted a few weeks before I saw Radiohead and Wilco almost back to back, so my expectations for shows were irreversibly heightened, but flat out Death Cab for Cutie sucked it up. One could blame the weather, for the roadies were rushed to set the gear up, but Rogue Wave, the opener had a fucking sweet set. I am not even a Rogue Wave listener; in fact I had dismissed them over a year ago as throw-away indie rock. Their live show returned me to Descended Like Vultures, their 2005 LP that I had bought, then promptly stashed away a week after the purchase. So with that said, it wasn’t the roadies’ fault, it was a combination of many other things.

Number one, Chris Walla is an excellent producer, and can bring out a sound in an album that is very unique, vibrant, and full. So when that music on an album is performed, it takes a lot to live up to the sound, and Death Cab blew it. “Bixby” sounded flat, “I Will Possess Your Heart” had less of a groove, and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” was just inarguably boring.

Next on the list: Ben has an ego. He is getting love from all these people, and thrives on it. The songs he sings are quite relatable at some times, but coming from this huge hot-air balloon of an ego, I felt alienated. He came out with a swagger that I didn’t notice when I saw them in 2006, and Neil Young chops that he had to have grown purposefully. I couldn’t stand to watch him.

Finally, the crowd sucked. I should have known better. Death Cab for Cutie=teenage girls and hopeless guys. I was surrounded by people that “couldn’t believe it was actually happening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and others that sang all the words (to the songs that everybody knows). Death Cab played all fan favorites, which is good for bands without much material, but with 6 full albums and plenty of EPs and b-sides, some fans want to hear those songs that had been collecting dust. Those few of us got one: “Your Bruise.” It had to be the highlight of the night, because it was the only song that I didn’t roll my eyes during. I was singing along (for once) and then I looked around, and I saw no other mouths moving. It is such a great song, but none of these people had bothered to listen to it because it didn’t have that lacquer that almost all other DCFC songs do.

They finally closed with “Transatlanticism.” And since they have been closing with that since 2003 in almost every show, all I could do was think about that Gumby’s pizza I still had in my car, and how that would take this terrible taste out of my mouth that Death Cab for Cutie’s show had left.


Moustache Salad this a Thin-Frenchman with sideburns (but not Neil Young’s) 2.5/5


Sorry, no mp3. I didn’t think it deserved one.


bo said...

Actually, i disagree with just about everything you say. Maybe it was because I didn't get a shit ton of rain on me.
The Kooks opened for them as well, which was fantastic for kooks fans. Although you couldn't understand a word he said unless he was singing.

Also, I'm a huge fan of Rogue Wave and thoroughly enjoyed their set. Lived up to each and everyone of my expectations.

Finally, I really thought the death cab set was phenomenal. I saw them in 2005 and this show blew that one away.

I felt this time i saw them they were much more reserved and not as cocky as in 2005.

One of the best sets i've seen in awhile in terms of sound quality and hitting the mark. I can't really speak for their stage performance as i was slightly distracted, attending to this girl (and her lips).

Granted I may have a teensy-biased opinion of the show, but I couldn't have imagined starting the summer any better. (Now to look forward to Sigur Ros, and Gnarls Barkley/The Black Keys/The Ting Tings.)

A rough setlist as I can recall
bixby canyon bridge
the new year
i will possess your heart
soul meets body
no sunlight
the sound of settling
marching bands of manhattan
crooked teeth
summer skin
brothers on a hotel bed
a movie script ending
company calls epilogue
i will follow you into the dark

title and registration
tiny vessels

not being on a first-name basis with the majority of narrow stairs songs, i was able to recognize them but not identify them.

A Movie Script Ending and Tiny Vessels by far stole my heart. I can only imagine them playing 405 and We Looked Like Giants to complete the set.

Also, there was this guy around me who was joking around. "I won't feel bad stepping in front of anyone unless they can name all 6 studio albums" I did, and EPs and such.

Caitlin said...

I saw them the night before in KC (as I think the guy above me did), and I really enjoyed it. I'll agree they mostly played crowd-pleasers, but there were a few, like 'A Movie Script Ending' and 'Tiny Vessels' (the first DCFC song I ever heard) that pleased me more than I can say.

I was rather disappointed by Rogue Wave. I enjoy them recorded, but live their songs all sounded the same. My friends and I spent their set standing in a circle and talking. Wasn't even worth watching the stage.

Sorry you had such a disappointing experience!

Erin said...

I am really sad that you didn't review the Iron & Wine show, and how awesome that one chick was. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this post, I'm just saying...