Death Cab and Franz live @ PNE

Just to set the record straight, I still love Death Cab for Cutie. I thought PLANS was a fantastic record, and if the song writing and production keeps improving, Death Cab will be making good music for many years. Sure, they aren't the indie band that we all loved from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, but they are in their 30's and unlike Dashboard, they seem to realize maturing as artists is a good idea.

That being said, this was the first time I've seen DCFC in a large venue, and I have to say the best way to describe the performance is to comapre them to a fantastic cruiserweight who moves up to the heavyweight division for a new challenge. Musically, DCFC is at a new level, but they are not a stadium show band. They have the technique, but not the power for this jump in weight class. The subtle instrumentation and the excellence that is Chris Walla was completely lost. The set was high energy, and they ripped through the hits (Soul Meets Body, Crooked Teeth, Title Track, Movie Script Ending, Sound of Settling etc), but trapped in the upper bowl in a largely empty stadium really took away from what I usually think is an excellent live band. Ben was very energetic, running around and dancing a bit, but the large stage and the cardboard cutout houses and trees they used as a backdrop kind of overwhelmed the whole performance.

My one real complaint was during We Looked Like Giants. During the song, the band "jammed out" for an additional couple of minutes to get the crowd a bit more excite, but in what I can only call an act of vanity and self-indulgence, Ben had his road crew set up a single snare drum and cymbal, put down his guitar and did a two minute drum mashing. While the double drum kit works for the Beta Band, I don't really think it helps DCFC.

So, the performance was good, not great. I think DCFC is an amazingly talented band, I just don't think they have the material and style needed to do stadium shows. Enter Franz Ferdinand. I've only seen Franz once, and it was in a small club in Toronto. They had amazing energy and got the crowd involved. This more or less translates into a show that can be moved venue to venue, regardless of size, and still be fun for all in attendance.

Franz got everyone clapping and mmoving with an upbeat, more rock, less talk set that more or less included all th esongs form both albums. I think the highlights (probably due to the amazing crowd response) were the songs from the self-titled release. Jaqueline, 40' and Take Me Out brought the crowd to a frenzy, espcially during TMO when DCFC ran on stage dressed in gorilla costumes and danced like crazy.

The encore was nice, featuring 11 drummers on stage at once (the boys from DCFC came back, along with the road crew) and as the band transitioned into Burn this City the crowd was quite happy to dance and call it a night. Franz's style bodes well to any sized venue and I really think they overshadowed what I think is a better band.

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