And my Feedback column focuses on last weekend’s Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists shows at Les Schwab Amphitheater. I thought both headliners were good, but one was more enjoyable than the other. Click here to find out which one and why.
Elsewhere in the music section, we detail the five shows this week at Silver Moon Brewing (including Moon Mountain Ramblers, Tyrone Wells and Gun Runner) and tell you what you need to know about tonight’s Brothers Young / Hurtbird show, Saturday’s songwriters’ circle at PoetHouse Art, and Monday’s jazz concert and auditions. Oh, and we’ll update you on Last Band Standing.
Solid show last night at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend as Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes and Jenny & Johnny kicked off the venue’s summer concert season. As is always the case on Memorial Day weekend ’round here, however, the start of the summer concert season did not mean the start of summer. It was freezing out there, folks.
Anyway, I’ll write lots more about the show in my Feedback column in next Friday’s GO! Magazine. Till then, I urge you to scroll down and check out these awesome photos of all three bands and the crowd taken by The Bulletin’s Rob Kerr. They really give you a sense of what it was like being there, I think.
Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie kicks off the summer concert season at Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight. I spoke with drummer Jason McGerr about the band’s new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday:
Several factors influenced the sound of “Codes,” McGerr said. The band took longer to make it, and, for the first time, brought in an outsider (Alan Moulder) to mix it rather than having Walla do it.
And, the members of Death Cab went through significant personal change after “Narrow Stairs.” Gibbard and Harmer got married. McGerr is now a father.
“Our approach as players and Ben as a (songwriter), it has to be different,” McGerr said. “We’re just at a different time in our lives. There wasn’t much that was the same other than the individuals making the music.”
On Sunday, Portland’s The Decemberists close out Memorial Day weekend at Les Schwab Amphitheater. Bassist Nate Query was nice enough to give me a call to chat about the success and sound of their new record, “The King is Dead.”
After nearly a decade making catchy, highly literate, history-obsessed music , “The King is Dead” is a return to the band’s rustic, American roots, a shift even more striking in the context of The Decemberists’ previous album “The Hazards of Love,” an epic, 17-track rock opera that mines British folk and prog-rock influences.
Query said “Hazards” is the concept of a narrative song-cycle album “taken … to its extreme,” and when it was time to think about a follow-up, that side of the band was tapped out.
“It felt like we didn’t have any of that left in us and it was time to make a record like ‘The King is Dead,’” he said. “(The folksy) stuff was in us the whole time, it’s just that we didn’t put any of it on the last record, so it was all just sitting there waiting to be (released).”
Click here to read the whole thing. And we’ve got a cool graph of The Decemberists’ sales and milestones, too!
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: A great band called Or, the Whale plays at McMenamins next week, plus an all-day concert and party at Maragas Winery, the Ron Steen Band brings jazz to The Oxford Hotel, The Dead Ringers do their tie-dyed tribute thing at the Tower Theatre and Silver Moon hosts The Staxx Brothers and Empty Space Orchestra on Saturday, and Yamn on Thursday. Plus, there’s a Last Band Standing update.
Here’s the thing: Lots of people like to turn up their nose at Death Cab for Cutie, and I get that. They make lovey dovey sappy emo-pop music that appears in “Twilight” films and on VH1. Teen girls love this band, not you. And that name … ugh. It’s not cool to like Death Cab for Cutie. Saying that you’re more pumped to see Bright Eyes at Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater tonight earns you more cred.
I get all that.
The problem with that stance is that Death Cab is by far the best band on tonight’s bill, and one of the best bands of the past 15 years. I will acknowledge that they have not always been the best live band (I saw pretty mediocre DCfC shows in 2001, 2003 and 2004). And of course, their past three albums aren’t quite up to the bar set by their first four. But those first four set a very high bar. Heck, the first two are two of the best indie-rock records ever made.
What I’m saying is Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie have churned out an abundance of great songs since 1997, and their hits far outweigh their misses. So if you wanna go into tonight’s show ready to hate these dudes, have at it. That’s your right. But if you wanna go into tonight’s show with an open mind and an ear that appreciates an unforgettable melody, I’m here to help.
Below, I’ve compiled 20 of the band’s best tunes in chronological(ish) order, ranging from their pre-“Something About Airplanes” 7″ records to the new single from their new album, “Codes and Keys,” which comes out Tuesday. There are rocking songs and pretty songs, fast songs and slow songs, angry songs and somber songs, pop songs and shoegazers. It’s a pretty good cross-section of Death Cab’s career so far.
So, it’s Friday and you’re probably sitting at your desk jonesing for the weekend. Maybe you’re going to the show tonight. Maybe you’re on the fence. No matter your situation, click below and let the YouTubes stream. If you can resist this playlist, you must hate great music.
Seattle pop-rock band Death Cab for Cutie will kick off Les Schwab Amphitheater’s summer concert season Friday night, and I’ll have lots more on the band both here on Frequency and in The Bulletin between now and then. In the meantime, NPR has DCfC’s new album, “Codes and Keys,” streaming in its entirety. (Note: I’ve been listening to it for a week or so, and I have to say I’m really digging it. It’s not perfect, but it’s another solid effort from Ben Gibbard and the fellas.)
With 100 hours until the show starts, you should have just enough time to get to know these tunes pretty well for sing-along purposes. Happy Monday!
(Update: Uh, as my man Dave Jasper points out in the comments, this show is on May 27. Don’t know how we neglected that important little fact, but there you go.)
Word just came in from the Les Schwab Amphitheater: The first show of the venue’s 2011 concert season will feature Death Cab for Cutie as a headliner, with Bright Eyes and the duo of Jenny and Johnny as openers.
A special “locals’ deal” ticket pre-sale will happen this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District, where 300 tickets will be sold for $35 plus a flat $3 service fee. You must pay cash to get the locals’ deal.
Tickets will also go on sale Friday for $35 plus fees (not sure how much, but more than $3) at the amphitheater’s website at www.bendconcerts.com. Those tickets will be available through Feb. 24, and tickets will go on sale to the general public though Ticketfly on Feb. 25.
Both Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes are darlings of the indie-rock set, though at different levels: Death Cab are mega-stars now on a major label and appearing on “Twilight” soundtracks, whereas Bright Eyes principal Conor Oberst ditched the moniker in 2007 (just after his highest charting album ever) and started playing with the Mystic Valley Band. (A new Bright Eyes album, “The People’s Key,” comes out tomorrow.)
Both artists played Bend in 2008, Death Cab at Les Schwab Amphitheater and Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band at the Domino Room.
Jenny and Johnny is Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley and solo fame) and Johnathan Rice, a Scottish singer-songwriter. I know little about them, except that my friend Dave says they’re great.
Of course, you can expect to read more about all these artists on Frequency and in GO! Magazine in the coming months.