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Death Cab For Cutie
Chicago, IL
May 20, 2011
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Story and photos by Andy Argyrakis

Back when Death Cab For Cutie was only known on the underground, its annual Chicago stomping grounds was the venerable Metro. Though the Washington indie rockers have since graduated to headlining arenas and festivals (including an August 25 area appearance at UIC Pavilion), this particular return to its roots served as a showcase for material from the forthcoming Codes and Keys (Atlantic), which hits streets May 31.

Now that Death Cab has longevity on its side, this seventh long player doesn't attempt to cater towards the radio faction of its fan base, nor is it a rethread of the group's now classic 2003 breakthrough album Transatlanticism (though it's by far this act's best album since then). Instead, it finds the foursome plotting a fresh course that takes a contemplative and cerebral tone across the group's most mature lyrical direction to date.

Even with the shoegazing nature of the new material, cuts like "Some Boys" and "Underneath the Sycamore" served as welcome set list additions, finding the group's already close chemistry clamping down even tighter. And there were certainly aggressive shades within the current collection, mainly "Doors Unlocked and Open," which provided balance to the chilling and sublime soundscapes of "You Are a Tourist" and "Portable Television."

Despite the purpose of this performance, Death Cab made sure to touch on its generally celebrated past, from the catchy (though unremarkable) commercial stylings of "Crooked Teeth" and "I Will Possess Your Heart" through some of the indie world's most treasured morsels like "The New Year" and "The Sound of Settling." Add in the sonically surging encore of "Transatlanticism," and this up close and personal evening served as more than just a warm up for the larger venues to come, but a reminder why Death Cab deserves to be there in the first place.

Related articles:

Death Cab for Cutie - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - April 2009
Death Cab for Cutie / Jack's Mannequin - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - December 2008
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs album review - July 2008
Death Cab for Cutie - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - November 2006
Death Cab for Cutie - Lollapalooza Festival review - Chicago, IL - August 2006
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans album review - October 2005
Death Cab for Cutie - Summerfest Festival review - Milwaukee, WI - July 2005

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