This summer’s Twilight Concert Series opened with a melancholic bang, with Death Cab for Cutie supplying the melancholia, and tUnE-yArDs providing the bang. Hordes of crepuscular crowds streamed in to find a venue similar to years past, with one notable exception: food. Lots and lots of it. Numerous food trucks lined the perimeter of the park, offering everything from gyros to ice cream to fine Jamaican dining.
As people queued in convoluted lines around the trucks, their ears were met with the tribally inspired beats and electrifying vocals of tUnE-yArDs, the brain-child of Merrill Garbus. Since 2009, Garbus has consistently surprised and invigorated the music scene with her experimental style, blending a diverse set of instruments and electronics to create richly-textured music. Along with bassist Nate Brenner, Garbus filled the air at Pioneer Park with powerful drums and wailing lyrical statements, redolent of something musically ancient. Despite the fact that tUnE-yArDs was the opener, the crowd accumulated near the stage by the time they were finished was significant, and they were met with applause as they finished the set.
In the interim period when tUnE-yArDs left and the wait for Death Cab for Cutie began, the crowds swelled to fill up the majority of the venue. Bodies jostled to get into the general vicinity of the stage. The tension, typical of waiting for a highly-anticipated band to take the stage, was palpable. Blankets were laid out en masse surrounding the stage by individuals hoping to spend the concert reclined and relaxed on the green park grass. Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed as Death Cab took the stage and it quickly became apparent, as the crowds surged toward the band, that anyone within a reasonable distance of the stage would have to stand.
Death Cab was met with a roar of excitement as they launched into their set. The ethereal vocals of singer-guitarist Ben Gibbard suffused the air, supplemented by the musical stylings of drummer Jason McGerr and guitarist Chris Walla. The first song was from their latest album ‘Kintsugi.’ Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold-flecked lacquer, emphasizing the broken history of an object as something that should be embraced and even celebrated.
The band departed from their latest album several times throughout the night, playing classics like ‘Crooked Teeth,’ ‘Soul Meets Body,’ and, ‘What Sarah Said.’ A particularly poignant moment for the audience occurred when the band played ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark.’ Members of the crowd were spotted singing along, with faces distorted heavily from angst. As is common at this venue, several people took to the trees, gesticulating passionately along with the music.
As the band wrapped up and the immense crowds began their exodus from the venue, the first in a long list of exciting Twilight Concert Series line-ups for the 2015 year came to an end. If this concert was indicative of what’s to come, then Salt Lake City can expect its Thursday nights to be filled with great food, innovative music, and eclectic company.