I have a lot of weird blind spots when it comes to music, I’ve been finding out. One of them is Death Cab For Cutie, whom I’ve listened to for as long as they’ve existed, but have never seen them live. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because they only played at big festivals, or because I fancied myself too cool to mingle with the emo kids seeing them when they played near me. But last night, at Bumbershoot, that all changed.
The line for the Key Arena, where the mainstage is, started at, like, Saturday. By the time I made my way in, every single seat with a stage view of any sort was taken. Every seat. All of them. And so I made the bold choice to not see them: instead I sat behind the stage, at the top of the second level, in a section of my own, with a screen of the whole show directly facing me. I could see everyone in the crowd, every person looking up in awe at Ben Gibbard and company, smashed against each other to capacity and beyond.
The sound was great, and they played — as promised — the entirety of Transatlanticism, which is just the best idea they’ve ever had. And they did it in celebration of the album’s 10 Year Anniversary, which just made me feel old all over again, but in a wizened way this time. I sang along to all of it, and so did everyone, and I could see people wipe away tears and people make out (sometimes the same people). I saw a group of friends standing on the floor with their arms around each other, all huddled into a human emotion blob. I saw four old people raise lighters, and then lose arm blood concentration around two songs in, and lower their hands.
Everyone was all in, for the whole set, and even though we knew — based on the fact that they were playing a very set number of songs (11) — it would end, it still felt too early when it was over. And so they played a bunch more songs (Movie Script Ending, Cath, Crooked Teeth, Soul Meets Body, 405) and still no one was ready for it to end. I certainly wasn’t, after a day of overexposed outdoor sets, with layers of sweat dried on top of one another like a human stench-flavored Kit Kat bar. I didn’t want to leave the air conditioning or great heights (such, yes), or the first DCFC show that I sort of but didn’t really see. But I did, and though Ben said “I’ll see you next year,” now that I’ve been to one, I can tell the waiting is the hardest part.