Usually, it’s best to start the show with a bang. But Death Cab for Cutie took the opposite approach last night at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. The band opened with the subdued song “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” a track that was made even more subdued by the fact that Death Cab singer-guitarist Ben Gibbard performed it without the accompaniment of his band. And yet his crystal clear vocals had such a powerful effect that they quieted the crowd. But anyone who thought the emo/indie rock band might keep it low-key for the rest of the concert was in for a surprise. As precious as the group's studio albums might be, its live show is a much louder and more raucous affair. And that’s a good thing.
For the rest of the 90-minute set, Gibbard and co. cranked up the volume, turning “Doors Unlocked and Open” into an atmospheric number with Radiohead-like overtones and adding a vigorous jam to the end of “You Are a Tourist.” Dancing ecstatically throughout the 20-song performance, Gibbard switched to piano on several songs and even took to drums at one moment. He didn’t banter much between songs, but he did refer to audience members as if they were his close friends, noting that “it’s been a long time” since the band played town and he had some "catching up to do."
The five-song encore featured a majestic rendition of “Blacking out the Friction.” One key lyric from the tune (“I don’t mind the weather”) suggested the band chose the song because it perfectly captured the rainy evening’s mood. Nice touch. One minor criticism — the primitive light show often didn't do the band’s music justice. The group might take a clue from the aforementioned Radiohead (whose light show is simply amazing) and invest in some visuals that will amplify and accentuate the live performance.
City and the Colour opened with an equally invigorating set of indie rock that had a strong roots rock vibe to it. The Canadian band’s influences became apparent when it closed with a cover of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane.”