Kicking off their 2021 tour with a bang, alternative rock legends Death Cab for Cutie brought nostalgia and clarity to Red Rocks Amphitheater on Tuesday night. The almost sold out concert brought together music lovers from all walks of life – young and old, singles and couples, mega fans and just curious. Death Cab for Cutie put on a show for everyone and reminded attendees not to take anything for granted in life.
Michael Hadreas, better known by his stage name Perfume Genius, took the stage first and set the scene for the rest of the evening. Known for his radical self-expression and emotional intensity on stage, the indie-pop icon delivered this and more in his first performance at the Red Rocks.
Against a backdrop of romantic blues, pinks and neutral colors, the ethereal musician started the evening sweet and slowly built up the energy for the enthusiastic crowd. Filling the amphitheater with throbbing rhythms and explosive vocals, Perfume Genius has performed hits such as “Slip Away” and “Otherside”, as well as songs from his 2020 album, Set my heart on fire immediately. Inspired by human bodies and the need for connection, the energetic and intense musician expertly prepared the crowd until they were practically hungry for the highly anticipated Death Cab for Cutie.
To say that the amphitheater practically exploded with excitement when frontman Ben Gibbard took the stage would be an understatement. Death Cab for Cutie gave everyone a taste of what was to come by taking the slow, steady lane and performing âI Will Possess Your Heartâ as the opening song of the night.
Death Cab for Cutie is no hobbyist when it comes to putting on a memorable performance. Originally starting as a solo venture in 1997, the group gained attention when their debut album Transantlantacism hit the shelves in 2003. Since then, the five-man group has toured the world, released a total of ten albums and been nominated for eight Grammys.
A concert by the melodic band wouldn’t be complete without a performance by the Grammy-nominated hit, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. The reflective performance was simple, but very effective. Gibbard’s crooning voice and mesmerizing acoustics made fans raise their hands in the air, almost as if in prayer, as he performed the popular song. The lively crowd of 9,000 were encouraged to sing along, creating a truly intimate moment in the amphitheater.
Another highlight of the evening was their performance of “Gold Rush”, a tribute to their hometown of Bellingham, WA. The lyrics, âWe kissed under the lamppost / Outside a bar near the record store / These have been condos for a year and more,â hit the crowd and filled the amphitheater with feelings of longing and longing for simpler days, especially in Denver. However, the rock band couldn’t come without performing some of their more “hardcore” hits. “Crooked Teeth”, “Black Sun” and “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” proved to be fan favorites during the flawless performance. Shattering cymbals, heart-wrenching lyrics and crisp guitar solos left the crowd refreshed and ready for more.
As their set drew to a close, Death Cab for Cutie took a moment to reflect on the difficult year the world has endured together and thanked them for being able to perform again.
They also took the time to discuss their partnership with Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression. The politically conscious group performed a cover of TLC’s “Waterfalls” from their EP Georgia, an album created to raise funds for the Georgia-based voter rights organization. As the song built, the emotions across Red Rocks also mounted. The song created a truly euphoric end to an already wonderful evening, making Death Cab for Cutie feel like each listener had written an individual love letter.
All photographs by Kori Hazel.