Death Cab for Cutie, Ogden Amphitheater September 10, 2021
By Tiffany Mull
“Thank you for your patience,” Ben Gibbard apologized for the delay, “The fire department held us captive until the storm passed. We weren’t on some diva shit or nothing.” You had to show proof of vaccination or a covid-free test result from the last 72 hours in order to enter the venue. The opener, Deep Sea Diver, went on at 6 p.m. They gave us catchy, zippy pop-rock; there was even a cowbell. There were then ominous gusts of wind followed by a soft rain. Death Cab for Cutie waited for an hour and a half for the storm to pass before coming on stage. They opened with “Passenger Seat,” “You are a Tourist,” and “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive.”
Death Cab makes perfectly successful, catchy music. They have a formula that works well for popularity and lyrics that are deeper and more interesting than most songs. The band, with the exception of the keyboardist who was in a blue-gray suit, seemed to have a quasi-uniform: a black shirt, black skinny jeans, and sneakers. “Doors Unlocked and Open” was frenetic and jumpy with long instrumental jams. “Crooked Teeth” had choppy guitars and a simple, bouncy rhythm.
Whenever Ben took the piano, a fan softly blew his hair. There is a melancholic, yet consistently sweet, undercurrent to his lyrics. The audience turned on the light on their cell phones (the modern equivalent of lighters) and held them up to sway during “What Sarah Said.” It made a dreamy ambiance for the light, flowy song.
A long, trance-like instrumental built up to the lyrics for “I Will Possess Your Heart.” It felt ritualistic: the guitar reverbing gently over the chanting bass and the endless cadence of cymbal and drum, with sparse keyboarding around the edges. Only when the audience was good and hypnotized did Ben begin to sing. The bass continued its pattern throughout the entire song.
“How many of you have been through a divorce? I don’t know about Utah; it might not be allowed in Utah; but let me tell you, out in the godless Northwest, it’s all over the place,” Ben said before playing “Black Sun.” Lighting and a smoke machine were used well throughout the concert.
For “We Looked Like Giants,” the bass and lead guitar player switched places and instruments. They switched back in the middle of the song, and it occurred to me how odd it is that not all electric guitars are cordless. They might’ve tripped or tangled.
For the first encore number, Ben Gibbard returned to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar. The stripped-down simplicity of “I Will Follow You into the Dark” serves to amplify its heavy subject matter: its lyrics span a lifetime and describe a love purer and more devoted than any religion. Ben uses religious settings (heaven, hell, Catholic school) to house concrete objects and actions (“no vacancy” signs, abuse by religious figures, following love rather than a space of worship) to cement his stance and devotion to the subject of the song. It’s a reminder that love and worship are two different things. Can you tell this is my favorite Death Cab song?
You are a Tourist
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
Doors Unlocked and Open
Title and Registration
What Sarah Said
60 & Punk
I Will Possess Your Heart
Kids in 99
A Movie Script Ending
We Looked Like Giants
Soul Meets Body
I Will Follow You into the Dark
Waterfalls (TLC cover)
The New Year