Being my first ever music review, I feel the need to
backpedal a bit, so bear with me!  I have
a romanticized history with Death Cab for Cutie.  It begins being 19 during the summer of 2004, blasting
the album Transatlanticism at 3am, dressed in ripped 80s concert t-shirts, complete
with Beatles patches and drawing/lyrics “artistically” placed all over my jeans
(sharpies and I became good friends that summer).  The smells and sights of that time, from the
perfume I wore to the fire flies that lit up every backyard, all coincide with
my connection to DCFC.  The memories are so
vivid they play like a cinema in my mind when a certain song triggers them. 
As time passed, I also harvested a sentimental connection to
Kleinhans.  My early twenties were spent
getting dressed up with my boyfriend and attending various classical BPO
shows.  I’d like to think I was evolving
my musical intellect at that time, but really I knew nothing about the
composers or conductors, the notes, the instruments… I just remember being in
awe and taken by powerful yet never too loud orchestras – with strings that
would pierce intensely and singers that would belt out incomprehensible words;
the emotion was always easy to understand. 
It was all very much enjoyed.
So, when I first heard DCFC was to play at Kleinhans, I was
overcome with incredible desire.  I NEEDED
to be there.  My excitement was
childlike, which was refreshing since no anticipated musical performance had
done that to me in a very long time.   It wasn’t until the day before the show that I
discovered Death Cab was playing with the Magik Magik Orchestra… the venue
choice was beginning to make sense. 
It’s the night of the show, and as I walked through the
venue doors, two very distinct parts of my past collided.  I was greeted by friendly and suited Kleinhans’
ushers complete with flashlights.   Ignore
the hundreds of people in the beer line, and in that moment, I am 22 in a black
dress, confidently sophisticated and guided by gentle faces into the wood
veneered walls I know so well.  I traveled
to my seat and was welcomed by a rainbow of lights.  It is then that I am transformed to that free
spirited 19 year old in a tie dye shirt—a girl just at the brink of discovering
my niche not only in music but in life.  
  But really, who I was that night
was neither of these women… I was and am a sensitive 26 (almost 27) year old
music lover ready to experience Ben Gibbard and friends live for the very first
time.  Around me was an array of people,
all ages… from the pregnant mother of four, to the stylized seventeen year old.
 With much expectation and build up, the
show finally began.  
I assumed the show would kick off with a new track from Codes
and Keys
, but the somber ivory notes of “Passenger Seat” from the album
Transatlanticism (2003) immediately struck me, which was perfect.  The addition of the orchestra filled the song
with delicate substance, and Ben’s voice was brimming with a certain calm that
has become iconic.  I was so pleased to
discover that his voice offers nothing less live than it does on any of his
albums.  If anything, it is more
emotional, if not at times even strained with feeling.  Ben stayed on the keys for the second tune,
building the show’s momentum slowly with “Different Names for the Same Thing” off
of the album Plans (2005).  Next we see
Ben Gibbard join his other bandmates at center stage for an eclectic mix of new
and old tunes, most graced by the presence of the Magik Magik Orchestra.  The way the set list was constructed was
brilliant, not letting you linger too long in one place in time, or in one set
of emotions.  The lighting embraced the
music with an array of color that was also well thought out and never
overbearing.  Flowers of light danced on
the ceilings, illuminating Kleinhans like I’d never seen before. 
Somewhere in the middle of the set, Ben offered Buffalo an
apology for not playing here in ten years, which to me was a great
acknowledgement.  He remembered back to playing
in a Buffalo venue that was a pirate ship, and he wasn’t sure if that was a
figment of his imagination or actual fact. 
He asked the audience to think of a venue like a pirate ship so he could
confirm he wasn’t crazy.   Later, I read
that the venue was in fact Nietzsche’s, which with the narrowed back and
spindle railings, maybe Ben isn’t crazy after all.
After seventeen well played songs, the show ended, and I was
happy… A standing ovation awaited an encore of a song or two, only to be
surprised by a seven song encore that started with the band gathered closely to
play a mellow “Steadier Footing”.   Then with acoustic guitar in hand, they played “Near Wild Heaven”, an REM cover.  Ben
reflected that without REM, DCFC would have never become a band. 
Some of my most memorable moments from the show came when a
solo Ben played “I Will Follow You into the Dark” with a chorus of the show’s
onlookers singing along with him.  That
has to be one of the greatest love songs, just saying.  And lastly, the show ended with a slow
building “Transatlanticism” that nearly brought me to tears.  All the colorful lights of the show turned to
white and flashed a beating pulse as Ben sang whole heartedly.  The Magik Magik Orchestra brought something
so stunning to that song (and others) that the crowd was left awe struck and complete
with smiles on their faces.  I may be
biased by my experience over the years with DCFC, but I feel like fans and non
fans alike cannot deny that the band presented us all with something truly
first rate and special.
Everyone has different associations with music.  Some listen to music to help them through
difficult times, others listen for the sheer enjoyment, others to become
inspired…  DCFC’s music has been all of these
things to me at one time or another, and now after eight years, I can finally
say, yes, I’ve seen them live, and yes, they were amazing.  

 ~Lauren Thomann  

Guest Writer

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