On a foggy early October evening, Palace Theatre welcomed world-renowned indie-rock band, Death Cab For Cutie, for the first show of a two-night run at their venue.
Aesthetically, the Palace is one of the best venues in the twin-cities. With its cool and relaxed atmosphere pairing wonderfully with Death Cab’s sound and demeanor, it was the perfect place for these shows to be held.
Upon entering the venue with the surrounding walls lit by a cool-toned blue, many concert-goers young and old gathered with their friends; the majority of them with a beer fresh from the tap in hand.
There was plenty of space to move around and no sense of urgency whatsoever; just the feeling of being in good company with the common goal of enjoying a Friday night filled with music.
There was only one opening band set to play before Death Cab took the stage; female-fronted band Charly Bliss.
When I was looking into them before the show, I got major Automatic Loveletter vibes from their sound, but with much more of an emphasis on grungy-pop. It made me slightly nervous having that as my first reaction since I wasn’t sure how their sound would translate live.
As it turns out, Charly Bliss was upbeat, unerring, and undoubtedly talented. Any pre-conceived doubt I may have had was all for naught.
What stood out to me the most, was how much frontwoman, Eva Hendricks, smiled continuously throughout their performance. I love watching artists who visibly and genuinely revel in sharing their music.
About two songs in, the band mentioned that their guitarist was unable to perform and was, therefore, being replaced by their bassist, who was being replaced by a friend of theirs.
This was a telling sign of their ability to improvise, which proved itself successful since it was hard to tell that anything was out of the ordinary. If you’ve been involved in any sort of performing arts, you’ve lived by the phrase “fake it to make it” – this commendable victory, embodied it.
Late last month, Charly Bliss released a new single titled, Heaven, which they played towards the end of their set. This song is highly representative of the heavy influence that they take from bands like Weezer, and it sounded fantastic live. (Who doesn’t love a band that can harmonize together?)
Be sure to check out their most recent album Guppy and keep an eye out for future tour dates from this effervescent group that you don’t want to miss!
Not a single person in the room dared to look down at their phone throughout their performance. It had been a while since I’ve attended a show where everyone there felt entirely present, which was a rejuvenating experience in itself.
Perhaps this was due to a generational difference, as many in the crowd were much older than I am. In fact, before the show had begun I overheard two older gentlemen trying to remember who frontman, Ben Gibbard, sounds like.
“No, no, no! Don’t look it up!” one shouted, “It’s 1998, we are twenty-one years old and seeing Death Cab For Cutie! There’s no phone in your pocket or internet, we have to think!”
I chuckled to myself as I listened to them try to pick each other’s brain for the answers, then pictured how different shows must have been back then.
I didn’t have to strain myself too badly to envision what that would have been like, as Death Cab For Cutie effortlessly held the attention of each person in the room throughout the entirety of the night.
About eight songs into their performance, after playing upbeat favorites like Long Division and The Ghosts of Beverly Drive, the band shifted focus to a few slower and gentle songs accompanied by a piano.
Playing the album closer, 60 & Punk made for such a beautiful an intimate moment between Death Cab and the fans who filled the Palace walls to the brim.
One of the most powerful lines in the song is, “Were you happier when you were poor?” to which a fan responded with a fist in the air and a resounding and passionate “Yes!” His response triggered an uproar of cheers in agreement from others.
I continued to sway along to the calming rhythm as I thought about the stories that may have brought others to this moment, and what those specific lyrics symbolize for them personally.
After the final note was played and I felt as though complete strangers in a room couldn’t possibly feel more united than they did in that particular moment, a catchy bassline began to play and I was quickly proven wrong.
The simple, yet swelling, four and a half minutes that make up the instrumental introduction to I Will Possess Your Heart are without a doubt, the most well-received moments I have ever seen at a show.
Death Cab For Cutie is primarily a band that creates soft and sentimental indie-rock, so to see people headbanging, dancing, clapping, and pounding their fists on the wall in rhythm was entirely unexpected, but so satisfying.
As the sound continued to grow and change, there were several blobs of colors that swirled around in time with the beat on the screen behind the band. Essentially, this looked like it was a dancing rainbow ct scan of the human brain. Simply wonderful.
The lights danced in time as well, and from the back of the venue, it appeared as if the sun was rising on the stage as the band took us further and further into the song. It was such a surreal and cinematic moment and some of the best lighting design I have ever seen,
Death Cab, if you’re reading this, I hope you are paying your lights guy enough, because man, does he ever deserve it. Absolutely breathtaking.
The momentum continued to build until finally, after much anticipation, the entire crowd belted out the opening chorus in unison as they glowed with content.
The night continued on as Death Cab played many other favorites across several of their albums. The balance between instruments and vocals couldn’t have been any more precise, and Gibbard sang with perfect and purposeful diction and annunciation throughout the night.
As they wrapped up the first part of the night with The Sound of Settling, the fans prepared for what was to come with the onset of the encore.
Death Cab For Cutie is the band that either makes you feel thankful to be in love or a deep longing to find it. This is something they proved as they began to play their classic song, I Will Follow You Into The Dark.
If for some reason you haven’t heard this tune before, you’ll only need to listen to it one time through to know exactly what I mean when I say that this song is the most likely to leave you feeling stranded and emotionally vulnerable.
Hearing it played live only amplified those emotions as audience members reflected on the heavy concepts of life, love, and eternity.
A generous four-song encore ended with none other than Transatlanticism. Fans gave it their all as they sang the six simple words, “I need you so much closer”, tirelessly and devotedly for eight lines straight.
As they sang along, fans thought about a friend, family member, or a lover. I’m certain as well, that deep down a piece of each person sang out about needing the next time they see Death Cab perform, to be so much closer too.
Until then, all a Death Cab For Cutie fan can do is remember what it feels like when a band captivates your attention, distracts you from whatever hardships life hands you, and invites you to relish in an unforgettable “soul meets body” experience.
If you happened to miss last night’s sold-out show, you’re in luck! Death Cab For Cutie’s second performance at the Palace tonight still has tickets available! Get them here!
Death Cab For Cutie Setlist:
I Dreamt We Spoke Again
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
Title and Registration
A Movie Script Ending
What Sarah Said
60 & Punk
I Will Possess Your Heart
Doors Unlocked and Open
Soul Meets Body
The Sound of Settling
I Will Follow You Into The Dark