Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Death Cab For Cutie, The Decemberists, Stars / August 18, 2005 / Central Park Summerstage

It’s official: I am an indie-yuppie. Last week, I bought a dining room table and matching chairs at Ikea. I also received my first paycheck from my first steady job. I have business cards, my own desk, my own set of office keys, even interns. I have a deck and a back yard. I have a bathtub with Jacuzzi jets in it. There is a copy of Paste magazine in my living room. Guess who’s on the cover? Death Cab for Cutie.

As I wrote in the Voice a little while ago, this concert in Central Park last Thursday, for a girl like me, was the equivalent of the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC doing a show together in 1998. Total teenage hormone rage-a-thon as my two favorite cuddly lovesick doughboys sang their pretty little songs just for me (and all the other I-Ys eating $5 veggie burgers.) The weather was PERFECT—not too hot, clear skies, slight breeze, sun setting behind the skyscrapers. The VIP area was far from crowded, offering ideal side-stage viewing. I stood next to Lyor Cohen, close enough to steal his Blackberry. He didn’t look pleased—perhaps he doesn’t smell a hit from his latest acquisition?

The new Death Cab album could go either way, in my opinion. “Different Names for the Same Thing” or “Crooked Teeth” could be smashes if publicized with gusto, or the record could become “lifestyle” music like Coldplay or Norah Jones. Or nobody cares and Death Cab will go limping back to Barsuk. Maybe it all depends on the next season of The O.C. (September 8! Can’t wait!) They didn’t play very many Plans songs last night, not even the two I really wanted to hear (“Different Names” and “Marching Bands of Manhattan”—how could they NOT play that one in this setting? Huh?) They did do “Soul Meets Body,” a pretty lousy choice for a first single if you ask me, but I guess they’re going for that adult-contemporary moohla right now.

Ben Gibbard has packed on quite a bit of weight and has a terrible haircut (or “non-haircut” as Ryan put it), which certainly hampers his heartthrobitude. But I’m always happy to see doughy boys and girls succeed—fuck 50 Cent body fascism! Yay Magic Numbers! The equally doughy bass player has had an equally terrible haircut for as long as I’ve been following the band, and I’ve really got to hand it to the guy for his persistence. At certain points during the set, his hair would start sticking up in strange places, making him look even more awkward. He was also wearing a mysterious black, rectangular object attached to his belt, which may or may not have been a cell phone or beeper. I’ve often wondered this: why do musicians wear their cell phones on stage? Are you really going to take a call while you’re performing?

Stars were eh. I like them, especially because they have a cute, voluptuous girl named Amy in the band. But I’ve never been particularly impressed with their live act.

The Decemberists were great, duh, playing “Odalisque,” which I’ve never heard live before. They didn’t do “Chimbley Sweep” and its attendant get-the-crowd-crouching-on-the-floor move, but they did “Mariner’s Revenge,” of course, and the audience was definitely feeling the scream-like-you’re-being-swallowed-by-a-whale part. At the end, Colin mounted the drummer’s back and rode him while playing a guitar solo. Way to fuck with those rawk masculinity tropes, guys.

For Death Cab’s encore, they brought out all of the Decemberists for a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.” Colin and Ben traded verses and everybody shouted the chorus and things got quite rollicking. But you probably already read about that on some other blog already.