Last night Londonist caught US indie supremos Death Cab for Cutie at Koko in Camden as they played as part of the month long iTunes festival at the venue. Needless to say, after having a number one US album, appearing on the OC back when it was good, having a platinum selling big-label debut and selling out two nights at Brixton Academy in the past two years, getting to see them at the relatively intimate Koko was an amazing opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up.
The tricky task of supporting Death Cab went to Das Pop. Normally if you play the hottest pop band to come out of Belgium in a few years to a room full of indie Death Cab fans you’d be seeing a mass exodus for the bar. Somehow though, they managed to win just about the whole auditorium around, with their catchy tunes that sound like Alphabeat songs done by Iggy Pop. Led by Bent Van Looy who looks like Alex Kapranos (of Franz Ferdinand), but with the energy of Mika, the four piece hurtled through 45 minutes of pure pop bliss. Culminating in a mass sing along at the end to “I can’t get enough of your love” and then current single “Underground”, we realised that although we’d come to see Death Cab for Cutie, they’d got a tough act to follow.
Bursting onto the stage from behind a very plush red velvet curtain, Death Cab for Cutie arrived and plunged through a mixture of old favourites and newer tracks from their massive selling “Narrow Stairs”. The new songs such as “Cath”, “No Sunlight” and “Long Division” fit just perfectly next to old classics such as “New Year”, “Crooked Teeth” and “Soul Meets Body”. A few technical troubles blighted the band throughout the set, prompting lead singer and chief songwriter Ben Gibbard to joke “I feel like I’m in a movie and I don’t know what’s going to happen next!” as he introduced “Movie Script Ending”. One of the biggest cheers of the evening came for the epic “I will Possess Your Heart”, an 8 minute rock out that looks set to be one of the best things the band have done, and a chance for them to stretch their legs musically.
Closing out the main set with “Sound of Settling”, Ben came back on his own to do an enchanting version of “I will follow you into the dark”, featuring everyone singing along for a proper hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment. To finish was the classic “Transatlanticism”, a slow builder that builds into a frenzy, a fitting ending to an evening with some of US indie rock’s biggest stars of today.
Last night's live recording will be available on iTunes towards the end of this week. Death Cab play a sold out Brixton Academy this Thursday night.
Photo is from the author's own collection.