Concert Plans

Maybe it was that I was still soaking in the lingering images and sounds of the Jason Mraz show a couple weeks ago … Maybe it was that my mind is overcrowded with work stuff and holiday stuff and future stuff … Maybe it was that Kates had doled out a whole lotta pressure on me to not go … Maybe it was that winter’s coming on strong … Maybe it was that I was getting that feeling that I’m getting too old for this …

But I had free tickets. Free! Tickets! To see Death Cab For Cutie! The much buzzed-about indie rockers! Ben Gibbard, one of the most talented songwriters of this generation! The authors of one of my favorite albums this year!… I would have regretted it if I didn’t go.

And when it was all over, I was sure. I’d rather just listen to them on my iPod.

I got to the venue a few minutes late, waited a couple more minutes in a line to swap my voucher for an actual ticket and then hiked up the staircase to the ballroom for the show … Interesting that I was back in the ballroom, I thought. Three years of going to shows at The Rave, and I had never set foot in the ballroom. Now, I was there for the second time in three weeks.

The Ting Tings were well into their set … I’d never heard of them. And when I spotted them on stage I immediately likened them to a punked-up version of Mates of State -- except the female half jumps around on stage a whole lot more and swings a mean electric guitar, while the man was wearing a pair of cosmic-looking white shades that would have suited a member of the B-52s. I thought I heard a little bit of a Shiny Toy Guns vibe in them too …

They were loud, too. Really loud. A theme that would last through the night.

The Ting Tings played for about a half hour; I caught about four songs, ending with “Shut Up And Let Me Go.” Katie White pounded a bass drum and then a cowbell like crazy, and I really dug the song … (Watching the video for the studio version on YouTube now, it sounds nothing like the way it did last night. Here’s a live performance of it during a Los Angeles show.)

For the next 30 minutes, my entertainment was the group of douche bags who cut into the last remaining space in front of me. The best part was watching one of them obsessively and methodically run his hands through his shaggy blond do, which was part faux hawk, part mullet. At one point, I thought, Maybe I should lean over and tell him he owes me a dollar every time he runs those fingers through his geeky haircut. I probably would have put an extra $12 in my pocket.

Jack’s Mannequin came on at about 8 and delivered more loud, hard rock … I’d heard of the band and knew they played Summerfest a lot. But I wasn’t familiar with their music, and apparently I was in the minority there …

Most of the crowd seemed to know a lot of their songs well, erupting with loud cheers when the band dove into “The Mixed Tape,” “Dark Blue” and “Bruised” (there's a clip from the show here). And as the band played on, I decided -- like the Ting Tings -- I might be able to get into these guys a little bit.

After their seventh or eighth song, it was feeling like every next song was going to be their last, but they kept going and going and going … I chalked up the quieter “Hammer And Strings (A Lullaby)” and “The Lights And Buzz” as my favorites in their set.

Their set list …
1. “Crashing”
2. “The Mixed Tape”
3. “Spinning”
4. “Annie Use Your Telescope”
5. “Dark Blue”
6. “Bloodshot Eyes”
7. “Hammer and Strings (A Lullaby)”
8. “Bruised”
9. “The Lights And Buzz”
10. “Swim”
11. “La La Lie”
12. “The Resolution”
13. “Mfeo Pt. 2: You Can Breathe”

By the time, Jack’s Mannequin finished, the crowd had swelled considerably. Bordering on claustrophobia and still annoyed by the douche bags, I decided to get out while I still had my sanity and moved to the outskirts of the ballroom … Where, lo and behold, I found a heckuva lot more breathing room and a crowd that was not only more mature but closer to my age (Insert sigh of relief here).

The Death Cab boys came on at about 9:45. And I figured they had to open with something upbeat from “Narrow Stairs,” perhaps “I Will Possess Your Heart” or “Pity and Fear.” Instead, they began their set with a slow, meandering “The Employment Pages” that failed to capture the crowd.

The band ran off six songs before they pulled out one I recognized -- with the cool, upbeat “Soul Meets Body.” … I guess you can’t blame them for bringing out a lot of old stuff. Being more than 10 years old, they have the catalog. And Gibbard did remark at one point in the show that he was “feeling nostalgic and thinking about the olden days.” Still, the crowd’s energy level seemed to spike ten-fold when “Soul Meets Body” came out.

They followed that with “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Gibbard lost the band, went acoustic and played it beautifully as the crowd sang along loudly. It took about half the song for me to remember, too, that we heard Ingrid Michaelson cover the song -- just as beautifully -- at Summerfest. Very cool!

They stayed on a roll with “I Will Possess Your Heart,” which they began with a great, long intro jam -- making it and “Soul Meets Body” my easy favorites for their set.

But after “Cath...,” and later a good “Long Division,” they were back to the older stuff. No “No Sunlight,” no “Your New Twin-Sized Bed,” no “Pity and Fear.”

At around 10:55, they finished things off with “Transatlanticism,” ending the number with blazing lights, screaming guitars and an ear-piercing, heart-pumping, floor-vibrating roar that seemed to sum up the mood of the whole night.

Death Cab’s set list …
1. “The Employment Pages”
2. “Your Heart Is An Empty Room”
3. “The New Year”
4. “Crooked Teeth”
5. “President Of What?
6. “Title Track”
7. “Soul Meets Body”
8. “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”
9. “I Will Possess Your Heart”
10. “Cath …”
11. “Pictures in an Exhibition”
12. “Long Division”
13. “Sound of Setting”
14. (Encore) “Your Bruise”
15. (Encore) “Title And Registration”
16. (Encore) “Transatlanticism”

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