Review: Death Cab for Cutie @ The Greek


Confession time; I’m a huge Death Cab for Cutie fan. I’ve seen them perform in a variety of settings over the past five years. Most recently I’d seen them two months ago at the Filmore. April’s show was clearly a warm up, and they were still getting their feet wet and cutting their teeth with the new material and experimenting with some new arrangements for the current Narrow Stairs tour. So my big question was with two months of almost nightly shows under their belt, how will they compare? Will they be tight and well-oiled or tired and wishing they were home? Will they be able to command a large outdoor 8,000+ venue like the Greek Theater? Read on for a full report…

First, let me describe the show from my photographer’s point-of-view. The stage lighting was lovely, with large purple, blue and amber colored spotlights taking their turns. Each band member was exquisitely lit, and there was the perfect dash of stage fog to capture the light behind. It was a photographer’s dream. I wasn’t able to obtain a photopass, but this was a blessing in disguise, as I was forced to shoot from the audience like I do for most smaller shows. I’ve never shot at the Greek before, and in the future would gladly choose to shoot from the general-admission audience over the photopit because of the very narrow photopit and extremely high stage. Working my way towards the front of the crowd, I met many nice folks who graciously allowed me to move forward to capture the action with a promise of some great shots available free to all on flickr. At my closest, I was still almost 30 feet from the front of the stage. But because I was shooting with a small super-fast 1.4/50mm fixed lens, I got an incredible amount of clarity, and could crop the images to my heart’s content once I returned home. I usually focus on close-ups, so this kind of situation really forced me to think on a much larger scale. Funny how disappointments can turn into assets with the right attitude!

Now for the music; It was a 1 1/2 hour set, beginning with Bixby Canyon Bridge and ending with Transatlantacism. They were perfect bookends to the set. The band seemed really tight throughout the whole night. Bixby is my favorite of the new album, and it seemed particularly fitting to play it here in the bay area as an opener. The Seattle weekly predicted that, “I Will Posses Your Heart will become a show-stopping romp of Biblical proportions by the time the band wraps up support of the record,” and they were right. Practice does make perfect, and all 8-plus minutes of IWPYH rocked.

Unlike the many tours of years past, no drums for Ben on Title & Registration – this arrangement had Jason solo on drums with Ben shaking a little brick thingie double time from start to finish, as he wandered about with a mic. Styrofoam Plates was an extra-special treat that doesn’t surface at every show. This show Ben spent surprisingly little time behind the piano.

It’s so clear that these guys love doing what they do, and they feed off each other and work as a team. Case in point – the staging of the show. Nick, the basist is front and center, with Ben stage left and Chris stage right. No big egos here, and Nick’s infectious energy makes perfect sense being front and center.

The East Bay’s own Rogue Wave opened, and they put on a headliner worthy show. Lead singer Zach Rogue was clearly on cloud nine. His in-between song banter kept returning to his being in awe of “finally playing the Greek”. This was a big, well-deserved milestone for these local boys. I love watching bands in awe. It ads a special edge and vulnerability to their show. It was clear that this was a special show for them, and their joy and delight was clear from their performance.

Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie
Photo Gallery:

Death Cab for Cutie @ The Greek


Bixby Canyon Bridge
The New Year
Why You’d Want To Live Here
Crooked Teeth
Long Division
Grapevine Fires
A Movie Script Ending
Company Calls
Title Track
Soul Meets Body
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
I Will Possess Your Heart
Styrofoam Plates
Expo ’86
The Sound Of Settling

Your Bruise
Title And Registration
No Sunlight
Tiny Vessels

April 4th, 2008. Just got back from the show…