Live Wired: Death Cab For Cutie – Live At The Mt. Baker Theatre

There’s nothing quite like witnessing your favorite artists play your favorite songs on stage, surrounded by fans who came to experience the same phenomenon. Welcome to Live Wired, where you can stay connected to the world of live music! This weekly column will explore and review performances by national acts as well as OurStage artists across varying genres. We will also look into what is changing and expanding the way we can experience live music without even leaving our rooms. Check back every Sunday for a new post!

Hulu, best known as the Web site to visit when you need to catch up on the TV shows you’re too busy to watch, is also relevant to the music world. The concept of musicians selling footage of their live shows is definitely not new. Fans have been able to buy VHS tapes, and later DVD’s, of shows they attended or wanted to attend for years. But now you don’t even have to pay to see a show as long as you don’t mind the occasional advertisement interrupting your viewing experience. That’s what Hulu is providing by offering Death Cab For Cutie‘s Live at the Mt. Baker Theatre for free streaming. Fans even have the option of watching the entire DVD or choosing individual song performances they want to see.

During the first ten minutes or so, we are given entertainment beyond the musical aspect of the DVD. All of the members spend this time talking about the early years of their lives and their band. They recall memories of Bellingham, Washington, the location of the Mt. Baker Theatre and the town many of the band members grew up in. We then get to hear about how their lives have changed throughout the evolution of the band. One member reflects on their success, saying “I still just feel like a dude in a rock band. I mean, it still just feels like, okay I guess I get on stage and play music now.” You can tell that returning to their hometown is a humbling experience for all of them.

The performance begins with a typical shot of the band backstage, getting ready to start their show. They enter to applause and with no real introduction needed, begin playing “The New Year”, the opening track from their album Transatlanticism. The song starts with an instrumental intro and while it’s not very upbeat, all the members are rocking out and you can’t help but get caught up in the passion instantly, even as a viewer behind the computer screen.

Throughout the show, the members of Death Cab For Cutie do a fantastic job of keeping up their energy on stage. At first, there are few signs of the crowd’s spirit or involvement but towards the middle of the set, they start to catch on when the band has the audience members participate by waving their hands during “Grapevine Fires”. Front man Ben Gibbard sings each word with so much passion, but his voice lends itself better to some songs rather than others. While songs like “Soul Meets Body” don’t have the same feel as their recorded versions, Gibbard’s voice shines in others such as “Bixby Canyon Bridge”.

The show’s encore is definitely the most powerful part of the set. Gibbard returns to the stage alone and with only an acoustic guitar in hand. What follows is a wonderful version of a fan favorite, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. The performance is personal and emotional, doing its recorded version justice. The rest of the band joins him on stage and ends their hometown show with three more songs, the last of these being “Transatlanticism”. There couldn’t be a more perfect way for this band to finish a show. The title track from their 2003 album, “Transatlanticism” is an epic, eight-minute piece that is hauntingly sad but beautiful. The songs starts out mellow and builds up in emotion both lyrically and vocally, focusing on the repeated line “I need you so much closer”. You can feel the hint of desperation in Gibbard’s voice.

Check out the band playing “Transatlanticism” below or catch their whole performance on Hulu!

Rock 'n' Roll Call: 2011's Most Anticipated Rock Albums

Last week, we covered ten of our favorite rock albums for 2010, which included records from My Chemical Romance, VersaEmerge, Foxy Shazam and more.

With new records from Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Coldplay and Beyoncé scheduled to drop, 2011 is already shaping up to be a big year for music.  This week, we’re taking a look at ten of the most anticipated rock releases, which stretch across subgenres from hardcore to electronica to indie rock.

Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin

Jack’s Mannequin – TBA

After 2008’s heartfelt release The Glass Passenger, Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon is ready to release new material. Passenger, which chronicled McMahon’s battle with leukemia, was a darker record then sunny debut Everything in Transit. But going on what we’ve heard so far, the new release will be yet another masterpiece, with plenty of well-executed piano-drenched pop rock.

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys (Spring)

Indie rock kings Death Cab for Cutie will be releasing their seventh album early next year. Frontman Ben Gibbard promises that this record will be “less guitar-centric” than any of Death Cab’s previous records, which have typically been of slower, chord-based song structure. Lyrically, bassist Nick Harmer insists that this album will have a much broader emotional scope than 2008’s Narrow Stairs.

Pete Wentz and Bebe Rexha of Black Cards

Black Cards – TBA

After the band announced their hiatus, Fall Out Boy‘s Pete Wentz decided to keep doing what he does best”make undeniably catchy pop music. Teaming up with then-unknown vocalist Bebe Rexha, Saves the Day drummer Spencer Peterson and The Receiving End of Sirens guitarist Nate Patterson, Wentz created Black Cards. The group’s music (especially Rexha’s vibrato-soaked vocals) is reminscent of early No Doubt, with an influx of dance-worthy electronic beats.

Taking Back Sunday – TBA (Spring)

Taking Back Sunday‘s lineup has changed so many times that their Wikipedia page has a full chart to help fans understand the eleven-year timeline of the group’s career. After a few missteps with new members”even frontman Adam Lazzara apologized for 2009’s New Again”the original lineup is back, making this one of the most anticipated releases for any fan of TBS’ genre-defining album, Tell All Your Friends. From the sounds of the demos that have already been posted, it looks like TBS is returning to their roots and ready to make a big comeback.

No Doubt – TBA

No Doubt

It’s amazing to think that ska-princess-turned-pop-superstar Gwen Stefani had any time in 2010 to return to the studio and make a brand new record with her band, No Doubt. Since the band’s humble beginnings in the late ’80s, Stefani has become a powerhouse solo artist, entrepreneur, fashion designer, wife and mother. But, somehow, she was able to make some time for writing music, and No Doubt’s comeback album is eagerly awaited by fans young and old. As of now, details have been pretty hush-hush about this release, but we’re betting that the new No Doubt will be bigger and better than ever.

Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) – February

After a full-year hiatus from the stage, charismatic ex-Chiodos frontman Craig Owens is back. Joined by members of Underminded, From First to Last, Story of the Year and Matchbook Romance, Owens has already made a huge splash on the modern rock scene with his new project, D.R.U.G.S. The band will be releasing their album in February, before they head out on Alternative Press’ AP Spring Tour 2011. From the sounds of the tracks already released, this post-hardcore supergroup is poised for a massive takeover.


fun. –  TBA (Summer)

As we learned in our Q&A with Nate Ruess of fun., the group is hard at work on their sophomore LP and are hoping to release it next summer. The band’s debut album, Aim and Ignite, was an exciting, refreshing and eclectic mix of everything from indie pop to showtunes. Fans are definitely on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what this band will do next.

Cobra Starship – TBA

Still riding high off the success of their latest record, Hot Mess, Cobra Starship have already begun recording their next album. Hot Mess spawned the 2009 smash “Good Girls Go Bad” and launched the band from the small-scale modern rock scene to rulers of Top 40 radio. Though no details have been released about the new album, Cobra’s history dictates that it will be chock-full of undeniably catchy, dance-worthy rock numbers.

The Mars Volta – TBA

Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta

GRAMMY-award winning experimental rock group The Mars Volta have kept pretty quiet about their upcoming release, which will be the sixth in the band’s career. The band entered pre-production back in May, and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez recently announced via Twitter that they were putting the finishing touches on the record. This will also be the first record where vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala will be writing all of his own lyrics, with no guidelines or concept provided by chief songwriter Lopez.

Emery – TBA (January/February)

Seattle-based rock group Emery delighted their fans when they returned to their roots on 2009’s …In Shallow Seas We Sail. Full of charging instrumentation, sweeping vocals and shimmering with top-notch production, the record left Emery fans satisfied, but also craving more. The band announced that they are planning to release the album in the early months of 2011, hopefully with some tour dates to follow!

What records are you most looking forward to hearing in 2011? Let us know in the comments!