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Death Cab For Cutie

12-Jun-2008 12:00 AM Contributed by: pete Concert Reviews
Death Cab For Cutie Death Cab For Cutie
Olympic Island in Toronto, Ontario
Photos and Review by: Pete Nema
Death Cab For Cutie
Stars
Rogue Wave
Young Galaxy
June 7, 2008
Full Photo Set (38 photos)

There was something so brilliant about the Death Cab For Cutie show line-up. I guess sometimes these things just come together right. Both Young Galaxy and Rogue Wave were in my Top 10 Albums of last year, and Young Galaxy also held a spot in my Top 10 Concerts for the year. And although Stars didn't quite make my list, I own and have been enjoying In Our Bedroom After The War. All these bands on the same bill? Pure genius.

Even though the ticket price was higher than many shows, in comparison to other big events, it was extremely reasonable. In fact, taking everything into account, it was an amazing deal. On top of all that, Olympic Island was catered by way better than the usual fare, with food being provided by Urban Herbivore, Big Fat Burrito, and Hero Burger and the beer selection in the two huge beer gardens included the fine brews of Wellington. The weather was near perfect and emphasized by what felt like a hot summer sun. The whole day was extremely well organized with the sets running exactly on-time. The only real complaint I heard was that once fans managed to get over to Centre Island, the line-up to have tickets checked and cross over to Olympic Island was exceedingly long.

Death Cab For Cutie

So, I'm not exactly sure when I first found out about Death Cab For Cutie since it goes back further than I've been using iTunes, but it was probably sometime in 2001, maybe about a year after they released We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes? A few years later, I still remember the rather odd moment I experienced one night while watching an old 60's British television show called Do Not Adjust Your Set (it is a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus) and hearing the house band perform a song called Death Cab For Cutie. I ran to look it up, and sure enough Wikipedia confirmed that this is where the band name originated.

Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie's latest album, Narrow Stairs, seems to me a natural progression from their previous albums, although a little more guitar-based than I expected. I like that. The first time I heard their latest radio single I Will Posses Your Heart, it started out sounding a little sappy to me. But once I started taking the lyrics more literally ("I will posses your heart" as in "I will obtain physical ownership of your disembodied heart"), it all changed and the song took on a whole new meaning. But whether you listen to it like a love song or a strange ballad written by a serial killer (ever see Dexter?), the eight minute epic version on the album is pretty brilliant.

Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie

Having never seen Death Cab For Cutie perform before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Since much of their music is generally calm, often with soothing vocal melodies, I guess I was thinking it would be subdued somehow. But Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano) brought it all out, proving that although the music may seem calm in the studio recordings, it can be played much bigger. It was one of those shows that makes it obvious why this band's fan base is growing with every year. For the first few songs, Gibbard was either up at the microphone singing or backing away and rocking out. He was also way more expressive than photos I've previously seen led me to believe. About two-thirds of the way through the set, the band took a break while Gibbard played I Will Follow You Into The Dark, a song he dedicated to his former touring companions, the Stars. They played the extended version of I Will Possess Your Heart, and even dipped into their back catalogue with Company Calls from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes and Transatlanticism from the album with the same name.

Info: Death Cab For Cutie | Connect: MySpace, Facebook

Stars

Stars dressed up the stage and their equipment with bouquets of flowers, and throughout the set the various band members would toss flowers out into the crowd. They covered a lot of their best material, including my personal favourite Your Ex-Lover Is Dead. Torquil Campbell (vocals, trumpet) is quite the showman, with his emotionally filled performance that included kicking over a mic that was causing feedback while he was playing the trumpet. It was clear that he and Amy Millan (guitar, vocals) are well loved. It was a visually astounding stage performance.

Stars
Stars
Stars

Stars
Stars
Stars

Info: Stars | Connect: MySpace, Facebook

Rogue Wave

Even though I have a connection with the music from all of these bands, Rogue Wave was the band on the bill that is responsible for the music that means the most to me. I saw Rogue Wave at The Mod Club in October last year, and even though the performance itself didn't particularly stand-out, there was a noticeable connection between Zach Rogue (vocals, guitar) with the crowd. And for someone like me who strongly identifies with the music, just being there, able to hear and see the band play was such an amazing experience. (Fans of any band should know what I mean). But the performance on Olympic Island was different... better, stronger. Maybe it was the crowd, maybe it was the hot summer day, maybe it was all the couples making out on the grass before their set, I'm not sure, but they pulled out a performance made for the big stage. Still one of my favourite bands of this decade.

Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave

Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave

Info: Rogue Wave | Connect: MySpace, Facebook

Young Galaxy

Young Galaxy has been spending time in the recording studio recently, working on material for a forthcoming album. As Stephen Ramsay (vocals, guitar) put it, they popped their heads out of the studio for this event. They used the event to showcase some of their new material, which, even on first listen, seemed like a good idea - probably winning over fans with material that isn't even out there yet. They did include three songs from their debut album (Swing Your Heartache, Come And See, Outside The City) to provide some context to the new songs for people who may have only heard them in passing. It was great to see one of my favourite bands from last year performing on a big stage.

Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy

Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy

Info: Young Galaxy | Connect: MySpace, Facebook

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