What is it with Death Cab picking awesome touring mates? I like them well enough, but both times I've seen them live, I've been going more for another band. The first time it was Franz Ferdinand, and this time? The New Pornographers. I like Death Cab well enough, but I am not sure I would have paid as much to see just them at a place like Pacific Coliseum, so I am glad they have been playing with some great bands.
Bands like Ra Ra Riot, who hit the stage promptly at 7. My friends description of them as "like Hey Rosetta!.... but really not at all" was surprisingly apt, even if the only similarities between the bands are the inclusion of a cello & violin to add a great depth to their sound. One that is an incredibly catchy indie pop-esque sound, almost bordering on twee-pop. With six members on stage, they never felt to cluttered and had a pretty good stage presence, if maybe looking a little out of place playing a stadium show. They seem like they would be much more comfortable playing smaller club venues. It was a pretty good set, though, and made me want to search out and get their new album (which, fun fact, I am listening to as I write this very sentence). Hopefully they're back soon enough for a show of their own, since I would really like to check them out more.
Next up, right at 8 (the only good thing about curfew shows is the strict timetable) was The New Pornographers. This was my fourth time seeing them live -- having seen them once a year since '06 -- and... I don't want to say the worst, because that implies it was bad, but it was the least good. It was still a great set, but just because it was at the Coliseum, which is not a great venue, and because they were opening, the set was all too short. But again, it was still a damn good set! They opened with My Rights Versus Yours, with all the regular crew on stage, sans Neko Case (who is touring on her own, in Michigan last night), though Kathryn Calder did her usual superb job of filling in for all of Case's vocals.
Before the show, I was really hoping that Bejar would make an appearance, since Destroyer would be playing a show the next night at the Biltmore. And of course as soon as the first song ended, Bejar popped out from backstage and they launched into Myriad Harbour!
The 50 minute-or-so set consisted of a fair amount of new and old, hitting at least one song from each album, which was really cool. I wasn't sure how they would structure their setlist, due to opening for someone like DCFC, but I am glad they went with the list they did. I was especially thrilled that they played Testament To Youth In Verse, as it's one of my favourites of theirs, and for some reason I thought they would not.
Newman was in fine form, too, crowd banter-wise. He expressed enthusiasm for playing at the Coliseum, saying his first show was when he was 9, seeing Rod Stewart there ("back when he was awesome"), then occasionally interjecting between songs what other acts he had seen. He seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing there, as did the rest of the members.
They finished off the set with another of my favourite songs, of all time, not just Pornos, The Bleeding Heart Show, which never fails to leave me awestruck, especially at Kurt Dahle's drumming. The man is a fucking maniac.
I managed to keep track of their setlist, which was:
My Rights Versus Yours, Myriad Harbour, The Laws Have Changed, Use It, Jackie Dressed In Cobras, All The Old Showstoppers, Challengers, The Spirit of Giving In, Mass Romantic, Testament to Youth In Verse, Sing Me Spanish Techno, Bleeding Heart Show
At that point, I could have gone home happy, but there was still Death Cab for Cutie to go! Hitting the stage at about 9:15, they played just about an hour and a half, right up until curfew. Again, I fully admit I was going to see The New Pornos, so Death Cab was almost like an added bonus. They are really good live, playing as tight as you would expect a band that has been around for as long as they have. Though, maybe a little on the stiff side, but you can still tell after all this time, they're not just going through the motions, rather they still enjoy playing.
Their set also consisted of a good number of new and old, starting off blasting through a half dozen songs before introducing themselves, then right back to the music. Gibbard and the rest were pretty quiet through the night, just letting the music speak for itself. The one story he told was their first meeting with The New Pornos, 9 years ago, where the members of Death Cab drank all their beer.
They hit all their big songs and hits, too, but saved them for later in the show and/or the encore. My favourite would have to be I Will Possess Your Heart, or more specifically, the introduction to the song, 4 minutes or so of instrumental, which is my favourite bit of any Death Cab song, I would say.
Even though it was at the Pacific Coliseum, which is usually a sub par venue at best, it was still a pretty damn good show and with three great bands, definitely worth the money. I was kind of hoping for some sort of New Porno + Death Cab (New Pornographer for Cutie?) jam up, but those [almost] never end up happening, so I wasn't too disappointed. A great way, also, to kick off my streak of 5 concerts in 6 days...