Death Cab for Cutie Went Rock-Heavy at The Chelsea

Erik Kabik Photography/MediaPunch

The ascendancy of Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie mirrors the rise of tech-toiling, cubicle-farming beta males. When the indie-rockers emerged in the late ’90s, songs like “Photobooth” sounded fresh in their crisp, introverted melodicism, especially amidst a Korn outbreak.

Now, Oxford-draped drones in IT and design run the world, their bombast-averse aesthetic triumphant, and the little group I saw play a campus pizza shop for a crowd of no one two decades ago packed the 3,000-seat Chelsea. Now, for the most part, they sound, well, bombastic.

Photos by Erik Kabik Photography/MediaPunch

Death Cab kicked it off with the incredible “I Will Possess Your Heart,” powered by effects-drenched guitars and the flawless rhythm section of Nick Harmer (bass) and Jason McGerr (drums). Frontman Ben Gibbard moved from keys to guitar to unleash “The New Year,” with its huge chords shattering the venue. “Crooked Teeth” came next, representative of Death Cab’s muted pop side, slowing the momentum. However, highway-driving “Doors Unlocked and Open,” along with red stage lights and rolling fog, announced this was, indeed, a rock show. More highlights: Gibbard’s solo-acoustic “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” after which he and his band unearthed Pixies cover “Dig for Fire.” And the final encore song was the pummeling, beautiful title track from 2003 breakout disc Transatlanticism.

The beta males and HR brides howled victoriously.