On The Download: Death Cab for Cutie - KCRW's Berkeley Street Sessions

KCRW hosted a private Death Cab for Cutie show at Bob Clearmountain’s Berkeley Street studio in Santa Monica. This intimate setting is a perfect venue for watching a band you truly love. The past few times I’ve seen Death Cab in concert I was really far away amongst a crowd of thousands, so it was such a treat to see them up close and personal. The excited crowd of 150 people stood shoulder to shoulder in eager anticipation waiting for the band to take the stage.

After 14 years together, Ben, Chris, Jason and Nick released their seventh studio album, “Codes and Keys,” back in May. Throughout their ten-song set, they performed songs from the new album as well as some fan favorites. Opening with “Crooked Teeth” (one of my favorites) from their seminal album “Plans,” the quartet seemed right at home on a relatively smaller stage than they’re used to.

They led right into “A Movie Script Ending,” followed by a song from the new album, “Doors Unlocked and Open,” which had everyone moving in unison to the strong and steady beat. That’s just one of the many things I love about this band. No matter how mellow they may seem, their live shows always get people moving.

They performed the new album’s lead single, “You Are a Tourist” next. The audience hung on to every word as lead singer Ben Gibbard sang “define your destination/there’s so many places to call home.”

Following “Tourist,” there was a mini-break in the show where the band was interviewed by KCRW’s Annie Litt and we got to know a little bit more about the quartet. For any Death Cab fan, it was a brilliant dialogue where they discussed their lyrics, music, touring, books they’re reading and how they’ve managed to stay strong as a band throughout the last decade and a half.

After the interview, they kicked back into gear with “Portable Television” – laden with a groovy tambourine (tambourines are ALWAYS groovy!) and a predominant drum beat.

After “Blacking Out the Friction,” they played a couple more songs from “Codes and Keys,” including the album closer, the sweet and carefree “Stay Young, Go Dancing.”

For their “non-core” – as Ben called it – they closed with the full and rich “Sound of Settling.” The show was over way too soon, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. This really was an incredible venue and the acoustics were top notch.

The performance and interview will air on Tuesday, November 1 on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic.” Be sure to tune in! It will also be streaming live on line during the radio broadcast.

You can catch Death Cab for Cute currently on tour and their “Keys and Codes Remix EP” will be available on November 22.