Death Cab for Cutie has always been a band that believed in the benefit of change. Whether in be in the name of the glove box in “Title and Registration” or the melancholy in buying “Your New Twin Sized Bed”, Death Cab has given us a guide-map to cope with change and encourage it’s surprising twists and turns. In their own recent case of adjustment with the departure of Chris Walla, more than ever the concept of adapting to change seems to be framing the band’s forward motion with the upcoming spring release of Kintsugi. A Japanese word describing the process in which broken pottery is molded back together with gold powder, presenting the new piece as more magnificent than the original—a perfect transition into Death Cab’s new chapter of their career. Last Tuesday, a lucky handful of Seattle got to experience the beginnings of this exciting new chapter at the band’s first show without Chris Walla and premier performance of Kintsugi material. Accompanied by the talented keyboardist Zac Rae (My Brightest Diamond, Pedestrian) and guitarist Dave Depper (Fruit Bats, Menomena) at the beloved Crocodile theater with an incredible opening from Say Hi, Death Cab danced with history as they marked the beginning of a glittering new journey, paved in golden streets.
As far as openers go, Say Hi was about as perfect for the show as could be. Eric Elbobgen is undoubtedly the nicest person you’ll ever meet and is unsurprisingly a great friend of Ben Gibbard. Both with Barsuk beginnings, and northwestern roots, Say Hi and Death Cab have more in common than you’d expect. Eric’s 2014 LP Endless Wonder took a more committed direction in synth-pop and includes several super fun cuts like “Figure it Out” and “Such A Drag” that will make you want to dance and contemplate your failing love life all at the same time. Eric brought these and many of his timeless favorites like “Take Ya’ Dancin”, “Devils”, “Blah Blah Blah” and more. Eric was icing on the cake for a crowd that was just stoked to be at a show that sold out within three seconds of sale; Say Hi was just the lighthearted dance party necessary to precede Death Cab’s return to the stage.
In an entrance almost too appropriate for words, Death Cab For Cutie took their stance in this new chapter with five of their most powerful words: “I Will Possess Your Heart”. Also the introduction to the 2008 Narrow Stairs record, this nine minute, magnificent single sent shivers into every spine in the room as the stage burst with energy and nostalgia. No more a perfect testament to the band’s all-encompassing talent, “I Will Possess Your Heart” showcases Nick Harmer’s ruthless bassline, driving the familiar heartbeat of the song all the way to the end of this epic beginning. Every voice rang out instantaneously with Ben’s as this favorite reminded us all that roaring potential is never to be ignored—especially not on this stage, on this night, the potential is endless.
The highlights of the night were hard to determine, between the ringing in of new material including the band’s recently released Kintsugi single “Black Sun”, and the remembrance of unforgettable old favorites like “Cath…” and “Crooked Teeth”, the entire night seemed to highlight itself. But, being the first eyes and ears to receive new medium from Death Cab in four years was remarkably exciting. Alongside the mentioned psychedelic single “Black Sun”, the band included, “The Ghosts of Beverly Hills” possibly the most rockin’ song Death Cab has ever written, and “No Room in Frame” which will open the new record and please anxiously waiting fans everywhere. In between songs, Ben commented that the first sold-out show Death Cab For Cutie ever played had also been at The Crocodile, 15 years ago, he thought it only appropriate that premier of the new Death Cab beginnings also be in the venue to symbolize the bands humble approach to this new chapter—for the fans, it made it all the more special.
Contrary to popular belief, Death Cab has never been a sad band, but rather a very real band. Despite the unexpected lot of tears running down my face at the band’s sampling of Transatlanticism, the performances of “What Sarah Said”, “Why You’d Want to Live Here” and the title track all balanced the excitement of what is to come, with what has been wonderful in the past. In a masterful presentation, Death Cab took the crowd through their feelings about the future: stopping in the middle to ask, “who is going to watch you die?” and coming to a close pleading, “I need you so much closer”, the message of love and loyalty has never been so clear. A brilliant moment in which Death Cab calls us to take action in our lives and allow love and admiration to bloom where they may, an action that begs for more attention. Being both an new voice and a familiar one, the band doesn’t seem to stutter at the approach to a new time, but instead is welcoming it with “a role of a lifetime” and “a song yet to be sung”.