Arts and Entertainment

In the back seat of the Death Cab

The anti-climactic climax of Death Cab for Cutie, April 18 at The Admiral. - Bill Mickelson/staff photo
The anti-climactic climax of Death Cab for Cutie, April 18 at The Admiral.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/staff photo

Last Friday night’s Death Cab for Cutie show was quite a spectacle.

In every sense of the word.

The hype had been laid out in advance, the band’s first show together in more than 18 months, the first stop of an international tour launching the follow-up album to their major label debut, 2005’s “Plans,” it sold out in something like five minutes. And of course, the locale was the place where lead singer Ben Gibbard grew up.

A little over a decade after he graduated from Olympic High School (and headed off to Western Washington University in Bellingham where Death Cab formed), Gibbard returned to Bremerton fronting one of the biggest bands in the world at the moment. The front man had already retraced some of his formative roots by tripping to the California town of Big Sur to write songs for the new record following in the footsteps of one of his idols, Jack Kerouac.

The ground seemed ripe for something monumental to happen April 18.

A camera crew from Current TV, a global online television station based out of Hollywood, was rolling, and a thousand people paid $35 a ticket each to pay witness at the Admiral Theatre.

From the sounds of things, they didn’t leave disappointed. Younger couples and groups of high schoolers were hugging and high-fiving on their way out of the theater comparing kudos and favorite moments from the show they’d just seen.

I found it all a bit anti-climatic for a band that opened for the Dalai Lama not long ago.

But perhaps I was just lost in Death Cab’s signature repetitive cadence. I’d been trying to break through that cadence for about three weeks prior to the show, hoping to sink my teeth into some kind of wisdom from the drivers of the Death Cab to relay to readers.

Having heard “I guess they’re not interested” in response to interview requests from multiple publicists, I strapped myself into the back seat of the Death Cab for the show Friday night to get a rare review for What’s Up. And I found a bit of that wisdom I’d been searching for.

In between songs midway through the set, Gibbard shared a piece of advice for the younger members of the crowd through the metaphor of a yearbook photo.

You know how you comb your hair perfect and wear your coolest shirt and you’re so stoked when the picture comes out just right, he noted, think about what it’ll be like when you look back 10 or 15 years down the road.

“And realize how futile it is to try and look cool,” Gibbard said.

Legions of teenagers from all areas of the Puget Sound got the message as Death Cab kicked into the next song. Soon thereafter when the band segued into one of its newest tracks off the new album “Narrow Stairs,” it was clear that they are at a similar point in their career, not caring about looking cool.

That’s not just Gibbard’s plaid shirt and messy hair talking. As a band, Death Cab is fairly fashionable.

But there is a certain dissonance between the new songs off “Narrow Stairs,” the pop-laden, catchy tunes from “Plans.” Though quite cliche, it sounds something akin to growing up.

Then again, I’ve only heard a snippet. The new album is out May 13. I tried to chase the band down through the green room and even waited by the tour bus for the better part of an hour to try and scrounge some details, but it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.

But hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to see another young rock and roll band on stage at the Admiral.

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