Death Cab for Cutie
Built to Spill
Saturday, July 11, 2015
The Greek Theatre, Berkeley
A crowd of 8,500 eagerly awaiting fans filled the Greek theatre Saturday night for the sold-out Death Cab for Cutie concert. This would be the band’s first return to the Bay Area without longtime guitarist, Chris Walla, following the announcement of his departure from the band back in August 2014. However, the audience was still in for an extra treat that night with a full opening set from the melodic indie rock band Built to Spill. Although both bands are coming off the release of a new album this year, having such early success in the ’90s and early 2000’s can make it difficult to attract the younger crowds. However, that was not the case on Saturday as the theater erupted with an even distribution of various age groups seeking to either relive the songs that got them through pivotal moments in their youth or those seeking musical comfort for the youthful trials they are still experiencing.
Built to Spill is coming off the release of Untethered Moon, the first record Doug Martsch has released with the group in six years. Even though the band has aged and grown since the ’90s, it did not disappoint fans and provided the perfect introduction to a night full of genuine indie rock music.
The public divorce from Zooey Deschanel, the departure of guitarist Chris Walla, and a deep breathe later, lead singer Ben Gibbard returns to the band's earlier roots with its latest album, Kintsugi. The night was a rollercoaster of emotions from Death Cab, as they cycled through tracks across various albums, making sure to hit the big tracks like, “I Will Possess Your Heart” and “Soul Meets Body.” Gibbard’s soft, comforting vocals blanketed the audience as the lights from the Greek immortalized shadows of the band dancing like mythical images against the stone columns.
Gibbard moved from his guitar at the front stage and magically reappeared on the back piano for various songs such as “What Sarah Said.” Compared to previous performances, Death Cab avoided any integrating of full orchestras, unnecessary effects, and embraced a striped-down sound. Although Kintsugi has received many mixed reviews about not pushing the envelope for a new creative sound, this return to what originally won over hearts was fully accepted by the audience. The night was filled with both dancing to faster paced tracks and relaxed intimate moments with tracks like, “Grapevine Fires” and “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”
15 years later and some notes still linger just as hard as when I sought the band’s Transatlanticism as an emotional crutch to escape the trials of my own youth. It’s an odd feeling finding yourself staring at the stage as you slowly drift away to a past memory of first hearing a certain song, then fading back to your present state, looking around and realizing that you're surrounded by a sold-out theater of other fans masked in glazed-over eyes, transported to a memory of their own.