There’s nothing quite like witnessing your favorite artists play your favorite songs on stage, surrounded by fans who came to experience the same phenomenon. Welcome to Live Wired, where you can stay connected to the world of live music! This weekly column will explore and review performances by national acts as well as OurStage artists across varying genres. We will also look into what is changing and expanding the way we can experience live music without even leaving our rooms. Check back every Sunday for a new post!
Hulu, best known as the Web site to visit when you need to catch up on the TV shows you’re too busy to watch, is also relevant to the music world. The concept of musicians selling footage of their live shows is definitely not new. Fans have been able to buy VHS tapes, and later DVD’s, of shows they attended or wanted to attend for years. But now you don’t even have to pay to see a show as long as you don’t mind the occasional advertisement interrupting your viewing experience. That’s what Hulu is providing by offering Death Cab For Cutie‘s Live at the Mt. Baker Theatre for free streaming. Fans even have the option of watching the entire DVD or choosing individual song performances they want to see.
During the first ten minutes or so, we are given entertainment beyond the musical aspect of the DVD. All of the members spend this time talking about the early years of their lives and their band. They recall memories of Bellingham, Washington, the location of the Mt. Baker Theatre and the town many of the band members grew up in. We then get to hear about how their lives have changed throughout the evolution of the band. One member reflects on their success, saying “I still just feel like a dude in a rock band. I mean, it still just feels like, okay I guess I get on stage and play music now.” You can tell that returning to their hometown is a humbling experience for all of them.
The performance begins with a typical shot of the band backstage, getting ready to start their show. They enter to applause and with no real introduction needed, begin playing “The New Year”, the opening track from their album Transatlanticism. The song starts with an instrumental intro and while it’s not very upbeat, all the members are rocking out and you can’t help but get caught up in the passion instantly, even as a viewer behind the computer screen.
Throughout the show, the members of Death Cab For Cutie do a fantastic job of keeping up their energy on stage. At first, there are few signs of the crowd’s spirit or involvement but towards the middle of the set, they start to catch on when the band has the audience members participate by waving their hands during “Grapevine Fires”. Front man Ben Gibbard sings each word with so much passion, but his voice lends itself better to some songs rather than others. While songs like “Soul Meets Body” don’t have the same feel as their recorded versions, Gibbard’s voice shines in others such as “Bixby Canyon Bridge”.
The show’s encore is definitely the most powerful part of the set. Gibbard returns to the stage alone and with only an acoustic guitar in hand. What follows is a wonderful version of a fan favorite, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. The performance is personal and emotional, doing its recorded version justice. The rest of the band joins him on stage and ends their hometown show with three more songs, the last of these being “Transatlanticism”. There couldn’t be a more perfect way for this band to finish a show. The title track from their 2003 album, “Transatlanticism” is an epic, eight-minute piece that is hauntingly sad but beautiful. The songs starts out mellow and builds up in emotion both lyrically and vocally, focusing on the repeated line “I need you so much closer”. You can feel the hint of desperation in Gibbard’s voice.
Check out the band playing “Transatlanticism” below or catch their whole performance on Hulu!