Death Cab for Cutie - Live

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Somewhere amongst reasoning, pleading, and a guilt trip, I managed to persuade my son over time to go with me to see Death Cab for Cutie. 

The tickets, as it turned out, were perfect - third row in the balcony - great view and audio quality as good as can be expected.  I had only been to The Fox Theatre once before, and this visit only increased mythefox appreciation of the venue, highly recommended for any  visiting Atlanta regardless of type of performance.

The first opening act was Ra Ra Riot, from Syracuse, NY.  They had a promising sound, but the audio mix was dreadful, and I only learned their name after looking it up afterwards.  They were a decent band, and their distinguishing electric cello and violin I would hope sound better in a recorded mix.

Up next was Matt Costa, an ex-skateboarder for what it's worth, whose extroverted personality suits him well as regards stage presence.  His songs varied widely in style, and he's someone I'll keep an ear on to see how he progresses.

And finally, came Death Cab for Cutie.  Their placement on the stage was a bit unusual.  Convention usually dictates that a bassist remains a stoic wallflower, planted at the left of the stage.  That was not the case here, however, as the aptly named Nick Hammer was featured at center stage, with guitarists on the wings and drummer slightly left of center. 

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I apologize if this seems to be a caricature, but ultimately it leads to a compliment. Of late, it seems, Hammer has grown a beard, and I couldn't help but think of Gimli the Dwarf (from Lord of the Rings).  Or, perhaps, Hephaestus, God of the Forge.  You're thinking, eh, what?

Well, vocalist Ben Gibbard's delivery from song to song is very even.  He has a limited range, and the meter of his delivery varies little from song to song.  It's okay, because he often strikes gold as a lyricist, and he makes the most out of what he has.  He's a fairly energetic performer, and it seemed most of the audience knew the words and sang along at every opportunity. 

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That said, Gibbard's vocal delivery leaves a lot of work for the group to develop tunes to showcase the lyrics.  On stage, Hammer pounds a rock show out of the band as often as the songs allow.  Having re-listened to some of their work since the concert Wednesday, there is definitely a harder edge to their recorded work than I appreciated, but playing live definitely allows the bass to speak out.

The other revelation, given the vocal same-ness in their recordings, was an expectation of a relatively subdued, possibly boring delivery of their songs.  Granted that the band chose most of their best work, but I was surprised by the number of musical "hooks" which I recognized and liked.  I under-appreciated the band's tunefulness, well rounded by the appropriate and tasteful drumming of Jason McGerr and the sonic accompaniments of guitarist/keyboardist Chris Walla.

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Wrap up notes: By the way, iPhones stink for taking pictures of concerts... That said, it's interesting how many people take pictures or video during concerts (see the bright spots in the audience).  Why? Because they can.

This only being my son's second concert, he liked Death Cab's performance better than Radiohead's, but preferred the latter's music (good boy).  That said, the difference may have been that he wore his glasses and could actually see this show.  Kids.

Below is not from this show, and not the best audio recording, but compared to others, at least the camera was steady. But it's a great song if you can make out the lyrics, and gives a good sense of their concert approach.

 

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