Death Cab for Cutie celebrate 20 trips around the sun with special release of their first-ever live show

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20 years ago, Death Cab for Cutie played their first-ever live show, and the world was forever changed. When you think about about all that this band has done – achieving both great indie and mainstream successes, playing The Bait Shop on The O.C., solving several high-profile haunted amusement park mysteries, defeating Calamity Ganon thus restoring peace to Hyrule – it’s quite staggering.

But now, the Death Cab arc comes full circle, with the special release of audio from that first-ever live show 20 years ago. Titled First Show, Acoustic at The Pacer House, Bellingham WA. 11​/​22​/​97, this #rare, never-before-heard audio was recorded via dictaphone at (fittingly enough) The Pacer House in Bellingham, WA on November 22, 1997.

Commenting on the release, head cutie Ben Gibbard said, “This is a recording of the first ever Death Cab for Cutie show. It was made by our friend Trevor Adams on his dictaphone at The Pacer House in Bellingham, Washington on November 22, 1997. Sprawled across couches and sitting cross-legged on the floor were 25 of our closest friends and fellow musicians. Everyone played acoustic or semi-acoustic with no PA. Trevor made and passed bowl after bowl of microwave popcorn because he was (and I assume still is) a great host.”

And folks, play close enough attention, and you’ll swear you can smell that microwave popcorn.

First Show, Acoustic at The Pacer House, Bellingham WA. 11​/​22​/​97 can be acquired now via Death Cab for Cutie’s Bandcamp page. Downloads begin at four dollars, with a portion of all the proceeds going to The Aurora Commons, a Seattle-based non-profit. Seth Cohen wishes he were a real person right now, just so he could hear this stuff.

First Show, Acoustic at The Pacer House, Bellingham WA. 11/22/97 tracklisting (ready?):

01. First Show, Acoustic at The Pacer House, Bellingham WA. 11/22/97

Death Cab For Cutie Share Recording Of Their First Show 20 Years Ago Today

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Aspiring musicians take note: Record and save everything you do because you never know when your humble DIY band will go on to become one of the most beloved and influential projects in indie rock history. Given the younger generation’s widespread inclination toward self-documentation, maybe this goes without saying, but it certainly was not the … More »

74 Artists On Their Favorite Tom Petty Song

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I once got busted trying to steal a magazine from my hometown library. The 8/8/91 issue of Rolling Stone apparently had one of those sensors on the last page and it beeped from my backpack on the way out. I was gonna bring it back. I just wanted to take it home to read the … More »

Newport Folk Festival 2017 Recap

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Every year, folk-lovers from all over the country gather in the beautiful Newport, RI to celebrate the great practitioners of this timeless genre. This year’s lineup included some classics, some newcomers and some newcomers singing the classics, all coming together to make for a weekend that was truly unforgettable.

We started off our Newport weekend with one of our favorite bands, Big Thief. The highlight of their set had to be the extended rendition of their song “Mary.” Halfway through the song, lead singer Adrienne Lenker put down her guitar and asked to restart, this time becoming completely consumed by the song with every ounce of her being, and pulling us all into her lyrical kaleidoscope. The song ended with tears and a standing ovation. If you came to Newport not knowing Big Thief, chances are you left with a new obsession. The next act we caught was Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie playing a strikingly honest acoustic set of songs old and new, from various projects. Aside from the fact that he soundtracked some of the darkest and most important moments of our teenage years, his songwriting rings with a consistent relatability that could get us at any age. Needless to say, Gibbard’s performance of “What Sarah Said” delivered chills through the crowd and was a moment we are still reeling over.

We caught the beginning of Regina Spektor’s set before heading to Fleet Foxes and we wish we could have cloned ourselves to experience both of these simultaneously. Regina’s voice is like butter, and her skill and musicianship shine through in every song. She began her set a bit late, having just run off of the bus and straight onto the stage, yet still delivered flawlessly. We ran over to the Fort Stage after about three songs from Regina to catch Fleet Foxes. The band’s perfect harmonies echoed across the field and reverberated off the waves of the ocean. They played favorites from their self-titled album, Helplessness Blues and new album, Crack-Up. My favorite moment had to be the thousands of voices singing “White Winter Hymnal” as the sun set over the sailboats behind us, ending a perfect first day of the festival.

Our Saturday began with another favorite folk newcomer Julia Jacklin. And even at 11 am, on a cold and rainy morning, the Quad Stage was filled with people eager to hear this new voice. Julia performed so effortlessly, sending her voice to flutter through the air and wrap around us all in what felt like a calming hug from a good friend. She played with a live band and some beautifully blended backup vocals. However, my favorite moment of this performance was her last song “Don’t Let The Kids Win,” which Julia played stripped down by herself with her electric guitar. During this song, you could hear a pin drop, and it was not only because of the beauty of her voice. This song teaches countless lessons about love and life that could allow us all to be better people and to treat the ones we love better. During this song, it felt like Julia was guiding us to a greater understanding, and we were all fully invested in following her word.

The next act that we saw was the great Angel Olsen, who continues to amaze and inspire with every single performance. Angel performed songs from all across her catalog, from early folk number “Acrobat” to recent rock single “Shut Up Kiss Me.” She’s a dynamic musician who can bring in the audience with the intimacy of a whisper, and in the next moment, belt out with a tremendous amount of power. She joked in between songs about the wind (which was going wild during her set), and by her last song, the sun had come out and the wind had calmed, a metaphor for what her music does to our hearts. Jim James came onto stage to perform during “Sister” and “Those Were The Days” and later played his own wonderful set on the Quad Stage.

After that, we caught Grandma’s Hands Band, the Bill Withers tribute band which was star-studded with the likes of Justin Vernon, Natalie Prass, members of Hiss Golden Messenger and more, playing renditions of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lovely Day,” leading the crowd in a celebration of one of the great songwriters of history. Billy Bragg also played a moving set including a version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing.” This one was specifically tailored to our political times, and it was called “The Times They Are A-Changing BACK.” The performance created an empowered moment with the massive audience watching over at the Harbor Stage.

The night ended with Wilco joining forces with Billy Bragg to perform “California Stars,” their song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie, one of the most significant musicians in folk music history.

Soon enough, it was the end of our magical weekend at Newport Folk Festival. The final day began with a tribute to Chuck Berry performed by the Texas Gentlemen, Shakey Graves, Nathaniel Rateliff and more. Nathaniel Rateliff also did a full set at the Harbor Stage as the “unannounced” artist of the weekend.

We got to catch New Jersey alt-country band Pinegrove at the Harbor Stage, whose crowd was not only insanely large but quite loyal, knowing every word to every song they played. This set felt like a big reunion of good friends. Pinegrove’s energy on stage was absolutely infectious, and I now understand what everyone is talking about when they say I “must experience the live thing.” Halfway through this set we ran to the Quad stage to catch Margaret Glaspy whose beautiful voice and quirky songwriting charmed the crowd.

Other highlights of day three included Whitney, Dr. Dog and “Speak Out,” a set of protest songs featuring Sharon Van Etten among others. The night ended with John Prine joined by surprise guests Roger Waters, Lucius, Justin Vernon, Margo Price and Jim James.

We are always amazed to experience the camaraderie of the people and the artists at this festival, as well as everyone’s real devotion to the art of folk music. It is a special space where a two year-old could enjoy the same music as an eighty year-old, who could enjoy the same music as a millennial. The surprises, collaborations and overall memories made at Newport this year felt a lot like magic, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the coming years.

Stream SAD! (A Barsuk Compilation For The ACLU)

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SAD! (A Barsuk Compilation For The ACLU)It may be a terrible time for our country, but it’s a great time for charity compilation albums. In the wake up Trump’s inauguration, we’ve gotten the Don’t Stop Now covers comp featuring Abi Reimold, Jeff Rosenstock, and the Menzingers, the Battle Hymns protest comp featuring Stephen Malkmus, Carrie Brownstein, and Carl Newman, … More »

Watch Ben Gibbard & Julien Baker Play Death Cab For Cutie’s “Photobooth” In Chicago

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Ben Gibbard and Julien BakerJulien Baker has covered Death Cab For Cutie’s “Photobooth” before, and last night she did so alongside Death Cab’s lead singer. Baker is opening for a run of Ben Gibbard shows right now, and last night at Chicago’s Thalia Hall the two singers performed the Forbidden Love EP favorite together. Watch footage below. More »

10 Songs to Soundtrack this Damn Election

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Well, this election has truly been a shitstorm. And every storm needs its own soundtrack, right? How does it sound when the first female presidential nominee of a major party goes head-to-head against the first anthropomorphized Cheeto to run for office? Well, there’s a lot of anger and sadness. Here’s a mixture of political songs both old and new to help you count down until Doomsda… errrr… Election Day. Don’t forget: VOTE NOVEMBER 8TH!

Note from the writer: This is a very, very biased article. If you’re a Trump supporter… I’m sorry…ish… Oh wait. Nope. Not at all.


Death Cab for Cutie – “Million Dollar Loan”

When I first heard that Death Cab for Cutie had contributed a song to Dave Eggers’ 30 Days 30 Songs anti-Trump series, I thought that no band could capture our country’s (mostly) collective sadness at the prospect of having an orange whoopee cushion as president than the band who brought us Transatlanticism. But what I anticipated to be the sound of wallowing turned out to be a surprisingly upbeat, biting satire of Trump’s rise to “the top” in “the business world.” Did I use too many quotations marks? Nah.

Le Tigre – “I’m With Her”

This election is so important that Le Tigre broke their decade-long silence to release this song in support of HRC. Bless you, Kathleen Hanna.

Bright Eyes – “Land Locked Blues”

A classic from the Bush (W.) years, I couldn’t resist including this gem from 2005’s I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. Though I know that many came before him, Conor Oberst was my first real exposure to political songwriting and the capacity music has to effectively critique our leaders, express frustration with our country, and create intelligent political discourse.

Franz Ferdinand – “Demagogue”

It seems redundant to grab (maybe not the best word choice) another song from 30 Days 30 Songs, but how could I resist this amazing collection of one-liners set to a Low­-era Bowie beat? Favorite lines include: “his pussy-grabbing fingers won’t let go of me now,” and “those tiny, vulgar fingers on the nuclear bomb.”

Savages – “Shut Up”

You can guess where I’m going with this. Shout out to all my “shrill” ladies.

Sleater-Kinney – “Bury Our Friends”

Carrie Brownstein and co. has always been my band of choice to express my frustration with the world. The line, “we’re wild and weary but we won’t give in, ” might as well be my mantra until after Nov. 8.

David Bowie – “I’m Afraid of Americans”

Me too, Bowie. Me too.

Muse – “Map of the Problematique”

Why yes. I am your friend who likes Muse for some reason (up through The Resistance—I’m not insane). I blame finding my mom’s Queen records in the attic when I was 14. In any case, the British trio has been extremely vocal about American politics since the W. years. 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations was 90% a criticism of the Bush-era political landscape and the Iraq War, and most of it remains relevant today. At the very least, you can enjoy the Depeche Mode-inspired electronic sounds while you try to dance all your worries away.

Nice As Fuck – “Guns”

A smooth electronic song from Jenny Lewis’s super group with Erika Forster (Au Revoir Simone) and Tennessee Thomas (The Like) that mentions both gun control and Isis. This much danceability while talking about gun control? Pretty impressive.

Bruce Springsteen – “Born in the U.S.A.”

It’s not a playlist about American politics without Bruce. Bruuuuuuce. Probably the single most misused song in the history of political campaigning.


Death Cab For Cutie – “Million Dollar Loan” Video

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Death Cab For Cutie - "Million Dollar Loan" VideoDeath Cab For Cutie released a new song today that seems to be a not-so-subtle dig at Donald Trump. “Million Dollar Loan” appeared on Spotify this morning along with a logo promoting something called 30 Days, 30 Songs. “Nobody makes it on their own,” Ben Gibbard sings. “Every ascension to the throne starts with a … More »

6 Memorable Sets From Riot Fest Chicago 2016 Saturday

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riot-festBefore we get into highlights of day two of Riot Fest, one gripe. Dear Riot Fest organizers, Fucked Up are one on the greatest bands of their generation. They have two classic albums to their credit. They’ve pushed the boundaries of what their genre is capable of, are critically acclaimed, and amazing live. Don’t give … More »

Bumbershoot Festival 2016 Recap

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Bumbershoot 2016 was a smashing success! Founded in 1971 as a celebration of Seattle’s art and music culture, Bumbershoot has grown considerably into the festival it is today. The annual event is often praised by many in that it not only celebrates big name acts but offers a fantastic lineup of local talent. This juxtaposition of music both old, new, big and small offers an amazing variety that provides a refreshing quality to the Bumbershoot experience. From rock and roll to EDM this festival has it all and this year was no exception.


Friday’s acts kicked off the festival with a bang. The mainstage included an exciting blend of sights and sounds with the likes of Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, and later Halsey and KYGO to close out the mainstage. Judging by the sheer volume of fans, it was easy to see that Halsey and KYGO were crowd favorites. Halsey in particular gave a fantastic performance that featured a finale that blasted the crowd with rainbow confetti. Simply epic.

Both the Fisher Green Stage and the Starbucks Stage also boasted several phenomenal rock artists worthy of recognition. Two in particular were Chevy Metal and Zella Day. Ever heard of Chevy Metal? If not, you might be more familiar with the band’s founding member, Taylor Hawkins, more popularly known as the drummer for the Foo Fighters. Unaware festival goers were greeted with a rare treat as the band rocked out to Black Sabbath covers and an awesome rendition of “My Sherona”. Zella Day gave a solid evening performance on the Starbucks Stage that featured hit songs such as “Sweet Ophelia” and “Mustang Kids”. Zella Day’s wonderfully enthusiastic performance had the audience on their feet with their hands in the air throughout the entire set.


Saturday’s events was a fantastic mix of music that any fan could appreciate. Mainstage acts featured some of hip hop’s finest. From Flatbush Zombies, Run the Jewels and hometown favorites, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Memorial Stadium (main stage) was likely the most high energy stage over the whole weekend. Macklemore, however, took his set to another level as he delivered a two hour set featuring surprise guests such as G-Eazy and a few members of the Seattle Seahawks. Macklemore stated in a recap Instagram photo: “All for the city” as a proud dedication to his hometown of Seattle.

Smaller stages saw a variety of acts such as Radiation City, Lemolo, Jagwar Ma, Explosions in the Sky and even early 2000’s pop artist, Jojo. Jagwar Ma, especially, was a awesome live set featuring drone-like synth beats and psych rock guitar riffs. Explosions in the Sky later closed out the second stage with an incredible performance complete with their distinctive guitar driven crescendos textured with rolling drums and crashing cymbals. After a long day of partying, Explosions in the Sky was the sweet relief many festival goers needed.

Meagan Grandall and drummer Adrian Centoni of Lemolo delivered an enchanting performance on the KEXP stage Saturday evening. The Hometown dreampop rockers played a fantastic set that featured a great selection of songs off of their latest album Red Right Return. Word to the wise, if you ever have a chance to see this band you will not be disappointed.


The last day of the festival was another mix bag of acts that featured mainstage headliners such as the much anticipated, Tame Impala and locals, Death Cab for Cutie. Tame Impala’s set, simply put, was amazing. The only thing that left fans feeling empty handed was the band’s famed grand confetti finale that was nowhere to be seen. Despite this, the Australian psych rock band still managed to provide an outstanding performance of hit songs such “Let it Happen” and “Elephant”. Long time indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie also put on a fantastic set however fans were so exhausted from the weekend’s festivities that many had already left the festival leaving much of the the audience section deserted. With that said, frontman, Ben Gibbard and band pulled out all the stops playing a collection of songs that both new and old Death Cab fans could appreciate.

The KEXP stage saw some awesome female led acts. In particular, Thunderpussy and Deep Sea Diver both gave fans a taste of some of the best local talent Seattle has to offer. Deep Sea Diver led by Jessica Dobson was the perfect closing act to the KEXP stage as they rolled through a fun selection of tunes from their latest album Secrets.

Now moving on into it’s 46th year, Bumbershoot is set to take place again next year over the Labor Day weekend. If you’re in the area next year this is one festival not to miss.


Andrew Bird

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Chevy Metal

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Death Cab for Cutie

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Deep Sea Diver

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Explosions in the Sky

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Jagwar Ma

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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis


Radiation City

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Run the Jewels

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Tame Impala

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Zella Day

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Around the Festival