Co-headlining tours always manage to draw an eclectic mix of people, and last night’s show at Jacob’s Pavilion featuring both Death Cab For Cutie and CHVRCHES was certainly no exception. In fact, one might suggest the gap between the former’s compelling indie rock anthems and the latter’s upbeat synth pop tunes might be too large to feature both on the same bill. You can see a slideshow of Death Cab for Cutie performing here
While that might be up for debate, there’s no doubt that both acts deserved their equal time in the spotlight. After Portland, Oregon quartet Pure Bathing Culture warmed up the crowd with its reverb-heavy, ’80s-esque pop sound (which served as a nice middle ground between the styles of the two headliners), CHVRCHES kicked things into high gear with their massive live sound and boundless energy. The bass rattled the venue’s bleachers as frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s powerful voice soared over the thumping instrumentals, commanding the crowd with range and poise.
Mayberry did a great job making up for what the group’s dual instrumentalists were unable to deliver in stage presence — running from corner to corner, banging her head, and thrusting her fists into the air with the beat. The crowd energy came to a boil as vocal duties were handed to backing member Martin Doherty for a pair of songs, something Mayberry took full advantage of as the band ripped through “Leave A Trace” and “The Mother We Share” to end their set.
Of course, as is the case with most co-headliners, there’s always the one band that everyone really came to see. While CHVRCHES had to fight a bit for the audience’s attention and energy, the Death Cab For Cutie guys had them in the palm of their hand from the minute they walked on stage.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” quipped singer-guitarist Ben Gibbard during a pause between songs. But he didn’t need to say it out loud — every aspect of their set practically screamed it, from Gibbard’s captivating stage presence to the way songs from drastically different moments in their storied career flowed into one another perfectly. Case in point: “Little Wanderer,” a single off of the band’s latest record, was followed by a rare live performance “President of What?” from their debut and then capped off with a performance of crossover hit “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” that had the entire crowd singing along.
Death Cab kept things moving steadily along, plowing through song after song until the last waning crescendos of final encore “Transatlanticism” eventually fell into silence. Despite the inevitable gridlock in the parking lot and the impossibility of the past hour repeating itself, the majority of the audience remained gazing at the stage even as the band members themselves were no longer there. What more can be said? Some bands just know how to capture a moment, and it’s natural to want to soak up as much of it as possible.