Last Night: Deck The Hall Ball at WaMu Theater

Watch a slideshow of Death Cab for Cutie at Deck the Hall Ball. Photo by Marcella D. Volpintesta.

What: 107.7 The End's Deck The Hall Ball
Who: The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Cold War Kids, Shiny Toy Guns, Aqueduct
Where: WaMu Theater
When: Thuesday, Dec. 9

Deck The Hall Ball was my first time at WaMu, and for some odd reason the first word that came to my mind was "beautiful." This may seem like a strange way to envision a cavernous, concrete-floored warehouse space, but when you enter to Cold War Kids performing "Every Valley is Not a Lake" while bathed in smoke and purple spotlight... well, maybe it's not so strange.

Large venues like WaMu that are perfect for bands like The Killers -- or boat shows, as one of my newfound concert friends hypothesized -- have the nasty habit of swallowing the vocals and emotion of smaller acts. But I would venture to say that wasn't necessarily the case here, at least not all the time. And with the exception of some strung-out goon hardcore dancing to indie bands, it was one of the more pleasant and friendly audiences I've been a part of.

The last time I saw Cold War Kids I was standing just three rows back from the stage in the comparatively intimate Showbox, and as a credit to the acoustics of the theater they sounded just as good in this venue as they did then. Luckily they looked as good as the last time too, maintaining the same funky swag and the jerky shaking of tambourines alongside the pounding of pianos.

I've been fortunate enough to see Death Cab for Cutie more times than I can count, but this time was a special occasion (as if all the others weren't), if only because the band is coming fresh off two Grammy nominations. They're not at all unfamiliar with Deck the Hall Ball either; this was their third.

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary (and re-release) of their debut album Something About Airplanes, Death Cab opened not with "The New Year" or "Grapevine Fires" -- as they have this tour and did at Sasquatch! and Bumbershoot -- but with five songs from the record. I heard a woman behind me whisper: "This is sleepy music." I laughed. After the five, frontman Ben Gibbard dedicated them to Josh Rosenfeld (the co-founder and CEO of Barsuk who signed DCFC back in the day). You can check out the complete setlist for Death Cab and The Killers after the review.

Though the list choice started the set off a little more subdued than usual, they promptly dove in to "The New Year" and raised the bar on intensity. The one thing that stuck in my mind was a vision of Chris Walla attacking the piano (literally at times), something I'd never really noticed before but eagerly welcomed.

This wasn't one of Gibbard's most flawless performances, but throughout the hiccups he demonstrated his penchant for showmanship. Though momentarily thrown off after being handed the wrong guitar, he pulled a speedy about-face and launched into one of the most energetic version of "Crooked Teeth" I've ever heard.

When Brandon Flowers strut out ontsage amidst the palm trees and neon ornaments, adorned in his usual shoulder fur, the crowd erupted in a way it hadn't all evening. He bounced back and forth between multiple mics, providing a majority of the band's visual entertainment and doing a damn good job of it.

Lighting really built the show, especially the rapid-moving spots and massive strobes, even if if may have been seizure-inducing for the faint of heart. And to be honest, I'm more of a fan of the Hot Fuss Killers, so the jazz-funk vibe and sax solos threw me off a little. But the change wasn't necessarily bad, and Ronnie Vannucci donning an "I Heart Seattle" tee mid-set only made things better.

Death Cab For Cutie:
Bend to Squares
President of What?
Champagne from a Paper Cup
Your Bruise
Pictures in an Exhibition
[All Off SAA -- Dedicated to Barsuk co-founder Josh Rosenfeld]
Crooked Teeth
The New Year
Soul Meets Body
I WIll Follow You Into The Dark
I Will Possess Your Heart
Sound of Settling

The Killers:
Reasons Unknown
Somebody Told Me
Losing Touch
Smile Like You Mean It
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Neon Tiger
Sam's Town Read My Mind
When We Were Young
All These Things That I've Done
Mr. Brightside

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