It showed on their faces and echoed through the rafters: for many, this show was more sacred than church, more meaningful than a homily.
Death Cab For Cutie + StarsCity: Washington, DC
Venue: 9:30 Club
On a cold, rainy D.C. night the 9:30 Club became a cathedral of warmth and happiness, one that reached deep into the imagination. For many in attendance this show was more sacred than church and more meaningful than any homily or sermon. It showed on their faces and echoed through the rafters. First, there was Stars -- a Montreal band with a proper following of its own. Part of a burgeoning (or burgeoned) Canadian music scene, Stars' latest release, Set Yourself on Fire has generated a lot of buzz. The crowd arrived early and in large numbers for the opener -- a rare feat indeed. For those familiar with the band I can only imagine that the lush pop orchestration and bright melodies was everything they expected. For those (such as me) that had heard only the buzz, the show was an equal treat (although I will admit that the slow motion dancing confused me a bit). My confusion was short-lived, however. How is it possible to be confused in the face of such terrific pop music? I was completely taken in by the alternating male/female vocals of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Both "Reunion" and "Ageless Beauty" were terrific. It was all smiles and hugs, and the good mood carried over into Death Cab for Cutie's set. Following a cordial "hello", the gentle hum of Chris Walla's organ and Ben Gibbard's pristine vocals began with "Marching Bands of Manhattan". As soon as the opener came to a close, the hammering rhythm of Jason McGerr began "We Laugh Indoors", this in turn was immediately followed by "The New Year", again without so much as a pause in the music. It's hard to say just how good these songs were; I was having a hard time listening critically; I was too enthralled. I suspect many of my fellow concert goers were having a similar experience: I noticed a number of dropped jaws and awestruck eyes. Finally, after "The New Year", the band took a break and thanked the audience.