. : : October 5th, 2005 : : .
… And, we’re back! After a week of downtime due to a malfunctioning computer (by “malfunctioning”, I mean “scary zapping noise-filled and plumes of smoke-enveloped”), I have finally built a new PC virtually from the ground up. The only two things that came out intact were the case and the sound card. How weird. To make up for the lengthy absence, I knew I’d have to reach deep down into the proverbial bag of goodies pull out something big. Hopefully, I’ve done just that…
It’s appropriate that I’ve chosen the band Death Cab For Cutie as one of the biggest recordings I’ve listed so far this year. I got turned onto the band shortly after the release of their album, The Photo Album, upon a record release show in Toronto at the Big Bop — a big, multi-level purple building on Queen st. known for housing many all-age local shows and small international acts. Each of the three floors of the Big Bop was a different venue: the ground-level floor, and the largest of the three, was the Kathedral. Above that was the smaller but still respectable Reverb. And at the uppermost peak was the intimately-sized Holy Joes. The Big Bop unfortunately closed its doors for good this past January, but the site has been listed as a Toronto landmark, and will be spared from drastic changes. When Toronto lost The Big Bop, it lost a huge heritage and spawning ground from countless local musicians, and with it, a great launching pad for outside acts to build a local audience. However, I digress. Death Cab For Cutie performed said show at the smallish Reverb floor, which is perhaps my favourite of the three. The next times they would return to Toronto, they would do so at exponentially increasingly-sized buildings, and have never returned to the club-sized stages I think they’re best suited for.
I wish I could say I was speaking from experience; however, I didn’t actually attend this show! Rather, a taper friend of mine went, recorded the set, and handed me a CD-R copy a couple of days later. “Check these guys out,” he told me. “I think you’ll really like them.” By the third song into the set, We Laugh Indoors, I was hooked. I ordered a used limited tour edition version of The Photo Album off of eBay, and fell in love with the band’s recorded output as well. I confidently then placed an order through the band’s record label, Barsuk Records, for their prior recorded output — Something About Airplanes, We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes, and Forbidden Love. It had been a long time since I blindly placed an order for more than one album of a band I was relatively unfamiliar with, but I’d fallen in love and I’d fallen hard.
The morale of the story is exactly what many Major Record Labels — and even bands themselves — can’t bring themselves to see.
I did manage to see Death Cab For Cutie perform at the beginning of their next two tours, for Transatlanticism and Plans respectively. I wasn’t taping until the latter, so (as far as I know), no recording exists for the former. I believe that this recording of Death Cab’s performance at The Spectrum in Montreal was my first foray into taping solo. I had, once or twice, taped shows where the aforementioned friend did most of the work and I stood there with the mics clipped to my shirt — but this was the first time I would have to sneak the gear in, set-up all the equipment, monitor the levels, etc. without any guidance. Luckily, the Spectrum has a weird staircase leading to the balcony that has an elevated platform half-way up. This half-way point was also directly across from the speaker stacks, so I ended up securing the spot there, to allow my mics to be well-elevated above crowd level, and with no bodies in front of me to block the sound waves. Unfortunately, this also left the security line across the stage with a perfectly clear sight line at me, and I saw one looking right at me that I was convinced was going to grab me and drag me out of the venue at any second. What? Everyone’s nervous their first time!
In retrospect, this recording turned out really well (many tapes that followed sound significantly worse). The bass is a bit heavy, as was the case with many of my early tapes, but the vocals and guitars come through clearly. As I mentioned earlier, the crowd noise is minimal on this tape, due to my luck with positioning. The crowd was loud and energetic throughout, so you will hear them sing along through all the usual suspects, but not at the expense of the recording. Without further delay, I present to you, Death Cab For Cutie, live at the Spectrum in Montreal.
01. Marching Bands of Manhattan
02. Laugh Indoors
03. The New Year
04. Title & Registration
05. Soul Meets Body
07. Summer Skin
08. Crooked Teeth
09. Different Names of the Same Thing
11. A Movie Script Ending
12. Sarah Said
13. Brothers on a Hotel Bed
15. Company Calls
16. The Sound of Settling
18. I Will Follow You Into The Dark [abandoned]
19. I Will Follow You Into The Dark
20. Tiny Vessels
Thanks to Death Cab For Cutie, Barsuk Records, the (now also sadly defunct) Spectrum and the beautiful city of Montreal. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.