Relax and enjoy the music with Death Cab for Cutie

Bassist Nick Hammer set the pace for the Death Cab for Cutie concert. Hammer sometimes serves as co-writer for Death Cab’s music, characterizing their alternative style. // Photo by Sloan Salinas/Student Publications

Tuesday, Oct. 4: the neon letters of the Coca-Cola Roxy light up the front of the venue. A screen underneath tells passersby what — or rather, who — has people lining up and down the sidewalk, waiting to get inside. 

Eight-time Grammy-nominated indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie (often simply called “Death Cab” by fans) performed in Atlanta on the sixth stop of their 34-stop tour promoting their newest album — the 10th in their discography — “Asphalt Meadows,” which was released in mid-September. 

During the show, the band did not just play songs from the new album, instead playing songs from nearly all 10 of their albums, only excluding “Something About Airplanes,” which was first released in 1998. 

Going on their 25th anniversary, the band attracted fans of all ages, from small children on their parent’s shoulders to adults with greying hair. Their musical style has a soft alternative sound that makes it a perfect genre for anyone to enjoy. 

At 7 p.m., the doors finally opened and the crowd made their way into the converted movie theatre. Coca-Cola Roxy has two floors: a main, hardwood, standing-room-only floor and a second story with seating. Six chandeliers hang from the ceiling, an unusual yet beautiful sight for a concert venue. 

As people waited for the show to start, they bought merchandise and drinks, found a spot to stand and talked with others around them. There were conversations about hobbies, past shows and which album(s) was/were the first to spark peoples’ love for Death Cab. 

While the room had the buzz of pre-concert excitement, there was also a comforting, community-like feeling, something familiar despite the room being full of strangers. 

To start the show, there was one opener: an indie-folk singer by the name of Thao. After her performance, it was time for Death Cab for Cutie to make their appearance. 

The group started with a song of  “Asphalt Meadows.” Lead singer Ben Gibbard was illuminated from behind by a single stage light for the first verse before the rest of the lights suddenly came to life at the first chorus. The singer’s voice sounded nearly identical to the recorded version, a gentle and melodic sound that fits perfectly into Death Cab’s indie style. 

The crowd moved along to the music but the overall feeling of the room was very calm. It was congruent with a setlist that emulated feelings of love, nostalgia and a relaxed sense of happiness. The band members themselves moved about the stage occasionally but often stayed in one general area moving back and forth, not completely still but not overloaded with energy. 

People sang along to every song; everyone seemed to be truly living within these moments of time. Despite the variety of albums covered by the band that night, there was a seamless feeling to the set list, like every song was written to be played together. In tandem with the set list, the band’s lighting setup involved vibrant colors that moved in rhythm with the band’s performance, creating captivating patterns across the stage.

The last song of their official setlist was “Foxglove Through the Clearcut,” an introspective and moving spoken-word piece that has been described by the band as “by far the most personal song on the [new] record.” 

It felt like a natural closer to the show, the narrative elements similar to that of a film’s ending monologue. After the last line, the band walked offstage as the audience cheered. 

Only moments had passed before people were chanting for an encore. Moments later, the calls were answered when the band came back on stage, launching into a four-song encore. 

All in all, the feelings of togetherness brought on by Death Cab for Cutie’s music were the best parts of the show. It was a blend of the energy of live music combined with a lo-fi genre that ensured an enjoyable show for every fan there.