Death Cab for Cutie: The Master Storytellers


Ok, so I’m just going to come clean here. Believe it or not, as a concert photographer, I always feel guilty taking pictures of the musicians I adore so much. I just don’t want to bother them as they express themselves so beautifully on stage. But I also love capturing that beauty that comes out when they perform. I could tell that the members of Death Cab for Cutie just wanted to share themselves with their Sayreville, New Jersey fans on June 10th at The Starland Ballroom and I completely respect and admire that. They really seemed to love and treasure their fan connection and were wholeheartedly immersed in giving the crowd what they wanted … a wide selection of their work spanning their twenty-two year career, performed tenderly and meaningfully. So, a personal message to the guys … here’s hoping I was as unobtrusive as possible!

DCFC’s concert at The Starland Ballroom felt incredibly intimate and special. I think the band must have a knack for making all of their shows feel that way, but the crowd that night soaked up every minute of it as if it were a once in a lifetime thing. Death Cab’s attention to detail in crafting a perfect show was evident in many ways. Their stage was set up meticulously right down to the organized way their instruments were arranged and how straight their setlists were taped to the stage. (Yeah, I notice random things like that with my OCD tendencies.) Additional light towers were brought in to accent the standard stage lighting. The evening’s music selection was an artful arrangement of an impressive twenty-three song set pulled from their nine albums. And I’ve never seen a show where every musician was so totally immersed and consumed by their music.

The alternative rock band - Death Cab for Cutie - consists of Benjamin Gibbard (Vocals, Guitar, Piano), Nicholas Harmer (Bass), Jason McGerr (Percussion), Dave Depper (Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals), and Zac Rae (Keyboards, Guitar). Formed in Bellingham, WA in 1997 by Gibbard as a solo project at first, the full band was formed after a record deal was landed. Throughout their career, the group has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Album for their 2015 album, Kintsugi. Their fourth album, 2003's Transatlanticism, broke into the mainstream both critically and commercially, with songs from the album featured in numerous TV series and films. And their 2005 album, Plans, went platinum. Their ninth studio album Thank You for Today was released just last year and sat atop Billboard’s Triple A chart for three weeks. DCFC has obviously found a musical style that appeases critics and fans alike.

What makes DCFC so unique? There is a beauty in their intoxicating lyrics that isn’t very common in most of today’s music. They are master storytellers who craft their songs from personal experiences related to their home town, relationships, dreams, and desires. But the lyrics are so well written that they would read beautifully as poetry too. All of this is set to soothing, melodious music that takes you in unexpected directions as it weaves you through the story of the song.

“How I wish you could see the potential

The potential of you and me

It’s like a book elegantly bound

But in a language that you can’t read just yet

You gotta spend some time love

You gotta spend some time with me

And I know that you’ll find love

I will possess your heart”

-I Will Possess Your Heart

“And I do believe it’s true That there are roads left in both of our shoes But if the silence takes you Then I hope it takes me too So brown eyes I hold you near Cause you’re the only song I want to hear A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere”

-Soul Meets Body

Fans are hooked on DCFC’s message and the filled-to-capacity Starland Ballroom was a testament to that fact. The rockers wooed the audience for hours and I heard many of them gush about their favorite songs and how much the band means to them. Stories hook people and bring them together. Death Cab for Cutie has a magical way of putting it all to outstanding music and, in turn, affecting their fans much more than they know.

Tour dates: https://deathcabforcutie.com/tour/

I Dreamt We Spoke Again / Summer Years / The Ghosts of Beverly Drive / Long Division / Title and Reg / Gold Rush / Crooked Teeth / No Sunlight / What Sarah Said / 60 & Punk / I Will Possess Your Heart / Autumn Love / Black Sun / Expo ‘86 / Northern Lights / You Are a Tourist / Cath …/ We Looked Like Giants / Soul Meets Body / Dark / When We Drive / Tiny Vessels / Transatlanticism