Tonight in Seattle:  

Death Cab for Cutie in the Park

Nick Harmer of Death Cab for Cutie / photography by Laura Musselman

19 Jul 2009 at Marymoor Park

The recent Death Cab for Cutie show at Marymoor was, in one word, amazing. Combine the gorgeous summertime drive to Redmond, the grassy knolls, the impeccable soundsystem, and the energy of these spectacular bands -- and you've got a one-of-a-kind warm-weather blissy magic night that concert postcards are made out of.

Traffic kept uber-photogress Laura Musselman and I from seeing the bulk of Ra Ra Riot's opening set, although we did hear their clean, sweet vocals wafting out over the fields as we made our way into the venue. Marymoor is thoughfully laid out, with pathways and raised areas to spread out picnics in the back of the show area, and a sunken 'floor' leading up to the stage for a close-up view of the show. As a result, the sold-out crowd never once felt like it overtook the spaces it occupied, and there was plenty of room in the front of the house to take in the view and the sound of the performers. It was my first time seeing a show there, and I was pleasantly surprised all-around.

Skeptical as I was about seeing the New Pornographers without Neko Case -- as were many folks I talked with prior to the show -- I've got to take space to make it abundantly clear that they were absolutely fantastic. Over the forty minutes or so that they played, each song came through with energy, style, and hipster-proof foot-tapping contagiousness. Laura noted that they really did a great job showcasing songs that complemented their strengths, instead of trying to cover up the fact that Neko wasn't there. I don't think I can explain it any better than that.

After a what seemed like only a few minutes of changeover, the lights all shifted, and we were suddenly thrown into Death Cab's set with abandon -- but a good kind of suddenly, like someone had gone from fourth to fifth on a car that was streaming down a gorgeous movie-scene highway. I looked around in amazement at the scenery, slack-jawed by the quality of the sound system, blown away at the energy that was pouring off the stage. Every single moment was tremendous, right from the literal opening up-notes of Ben Gibbard's voice crooning the first lines of Marching Bands of Manhattan.

The set list was perfect, weaving us in and out of recent releases, cassette-originals, and a sampling of tracks in-between -- it was a great cross-section of their work:

Marching Bands of Manhattan
New Year
Why You'd Want to Live here
Crooked Teeth
No Sunlight
Company Calls
Summer Skin
Grapevine Fires
I Will Possess Your Heart
I Will Follow You into the Dark [Ben solo]
Title & Registration
Cath
Little Bribes
Pictures in an Exhibition
Expo '86
Sound of Settling
--
Brothers in a Hotel Bed
405
Soul Meets Body
Transatlanticism

Serving better than any adjective this writer could choose, the insanely talented Laura Musselman captured some stunning shots from both nights of shows, which she's graciously shared with us in the imaginary flickr pool. Here's just a few from Sunday's set:

Ben Gibbard by Laura Musselman

Death Cab for Cutie fans by Laura Musselman

Nick Harmer by Laura Musselman

Chris Walla by Laura Musselman

Was "405" full band or solo? Wish I'd been there! I've seen the New Pornographers several times without Neko (and only once with), and they were still fantastic, but they obviously can't play the great Neko hits.

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