I love taking in a summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl and I was lucky enough to procure tickets to Death Cab For Cutie’s headlining performance at the venue earlier this month — but it was opening act Tegan and Sara who I was really there to see.
The concert started around 7:00pm and after the New Pornographers opened the show, Tegan and Sara took the stage. Hailing from Canada, twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin are quickly becoming a prevalent force among the indie music crowd. They are one of my favorite musical acts. I’ve only seen them perform in smaller, intimate venues, so I was curious to see how they would sound in a bigger venue. After their opening number, they even joked about how nervous they were performing in such a big place.
The twins have a great dynamic with each other. Their dichotomy is what makes their bantering between songs so entertaining. One of the things Tegan and Sara fans look forward to most during their concerts is their famous repartee with each other.
They sounded excellent during the show, considering a lot of their songs aren’t meant to be played in large amphitheaters. If they were nervous about the size of the audience, they definitely didn’t show it. I love watching them perform because they’re the kind of band that plays every song the fans want to hear. From “Where Does the Good Go” to “The Con,” their songs always sound different every time they perform, which is yet another thing I love about watching them play. In fact, the only problem I had with their set was the fact that is was only about a half-hour long. It was way too short, coming from a band that I could listen to for days.
After Tegan and Sara closed with the uptempo “Back In Your Head,” Death Cab for Cutie came out for their headlining set. This was my second time seeing Death Cab for Cutie in concert. In all honesty, the first time I saw them, I was pretty bored by the end of the show. Maybe it’s because, like this time, I was there to see the opening act. But this time was very different. Opening with one of my favorite Death Cab songs, frontman Ben Gibbard belted out “Marching Bands of Manhattan.”. The energy of their set was much higher than the last time I saw them and they kept me captivated the entire time.
After highlights such as “Crooked Teeth” and “Summer Skin,” they began to play one of their more recent singles, “I Will Possess Your Heart.” There’s something different about hearing this song live. On the radio, I wasn’t that impressed with the track. The lyrics are simple and repetitive. It took me hearing it live to appreciate the musicality of the song. So many instruments are involved and the three-minute intro kept me enthralled. By the time Gibbard’s vocals came in, I was hooked.
After their song “The Sound of Settling,” the band excused themselves only to shortly return with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The rest of the songs of the night were performed with the Philharmonic. They opened with the love song (and fan favorite) “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” The highlight of the show, however, was “Soul Meets Body.” The orchestra blended extremely well with the band and it was quite fascinating to hear my favorite Death Cab for Cutie song infused with an orchestra.
For the show’s denouement, they closed with the title track of their fourth album, “Transatlanticism.” I was a little surprised that they chose to close with such a somber ballad, but then my worries subsided when fireworks starting shooting off above the stage. The fireworks matched the beat of the song and each time Ben Gibbard sang the line “I need you so much closer,” the fireworks got bigger and more spectacular. It was an exceptional ending to a show that kept surprising me.
Death Cab for Cutie remains on tour, promoting their Grammy-nominated album, “Narrow Stairs.”CLICK HERE to see their upcoming dates.