Death Cab For Cutie at Red Rocks Amphitheater: August 23, 2011: Morrison, CO
With the summer music season coming to an end it was a great opportunity to head out to Red Rocks for possibly my last concert of the season. Let’s see the last time I saw Death Cab For Cutie was for Austin City Limits in 2005, I was really “into” them back then and only remember watching them from like 100 yards and Ben Gibbard was a bit more husky. The night started with openers Frightened Rabbit who hail from Glasgow, Scotland. Scott Hutchinson lead singer of the group cruised through a tight set including fan favorites “The Modern Leper”, “Old, Old Fashion”, and ending with “The Loneliness and The Scream”. Very reminiscent of bands such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons, Frightened Rabbit bring a unique folk-type element with an almost organic sound. As with most artists who come to perform at altitude it wasn’t without surprise that Hutchinson made a comment to our thin air. At one point he jokingly informed the crowd they were going to finish their set “We are a little winded, but will not be pulling a Kings of Leon on you guys tonight”, the crowd responded with a well deserved chuckle.
As the night slowly began to dim the majestic venues monolith rocks began to take their famous red aura. Backed by a set of several LED displays, Ben Gibbard and company took the stage to the opening bass riffs of “I Will Possess Your Heart” seamlessly transitioning into “Crooked Teeth”. As the night progressed they managed to perform hits from all of their albums, the crowd at times seemed hypnotized and subdued by the gentle melodic nature in which Death Cab commands the stage. Long gone are the days in which there sound is limited to mid-to large-scale arenas, it seems fittingly that their music is to be enjoyed outdoors. Other highlights of the night included a dueling drum off between Ben Gibbard and Jason McGerr during “We Looked Like Giants”, which energized the crowd for a brief moment.
Gibbard also mentioned the effects of the altitude at one point informing the crowd "There will be a couple of times during this set when yours truly will be sucking wind," he then compared Red Rocks to the moon going on to say "Because as you know, this show is taking place on top of the moon. I love the moon. But it does take some adjusting to." There was never really a dull moment throughout the two and a half hour set, the emotionally driven acoustic version of “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, was the most heartfelt moment of the entire evening, complimented by the perfect intimate venue. The crowd participated in full sing along during some of the their more famous songs “Soul Meets Body”, (see video), as well as “The Sound of Settling”, and “A Movie Script Ending”. They played a few songs of their latest album including "You Are A Tourist", and "Doors Unlocked and Opened".
They left their best for last as they played the ballad driven "Transatlanticism"as part of the encore. The 8-minute song was a perfect ending as the song built on chemistry between Gibbard and the talented Chris Walla; it was as if this song was meant to be played at Red Rocks. Repeating the chorus…”I need you so much closer”, struck a huge chord to many in attendance including myself. Truly one of the best shows I have been part of. Big thanks to Carmel Schiff and Dan Harrison for the awesome company this night.