“Thank you for bearing with us while we have some technical difficulties,” Lillie West from Lala Lala said in her English accent. “Can we get a kick paddle, please?”
Lala Lala, an indie group from Chicago, started off the night Tuesday at the Mankato Civic Center before Death Cab for Cutie took the stage. Even after experiencing some technical difficulties, Lala Lala didn’t falter from the energetic performance of 10 songs (and a great Dad joke), filling the venue with fresh, surf rock-esque sounds, before handing things off to Death Cab for Cutie — the main event.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from going to shows over the years, a great opener is a promise of a great headliner, and it still holds true.
After Lala Lala, the Civic Center was flooded with lights exposing the audience. I read a review of a Death Cab concert years ago where the author described the fans: “I’ve never seen so many thick-rimmed glasses and sweaters packed into one room.”
But this show was different.
There were young families sitting together in the center, first time concert goers, a group of mature folks, high schoolers, free spirits and professionals. It’s a rare occurrence to see such a healthy mix of fans, especially on a weekday. There’s something about Death Cab for Cutie’s unique music, which has been hitting the airwaves since ‘97, that resonates with people who seemingly are very different from one another.
Death Cab took the stage around 8 p.m., beginning the show with “I Dreamt We Spoke Again.” The group’s energy from their first song off their latest album, “Thank You for Today,” remained palpable throughout their performance, from the most energetic songs such as “We Looked Like Giants” to the most tender, such as “60 & Punk.”
That energy exuded from each band member, especially Ben Gibbard (frontman) as he would switch from piano (set toward the rear of the stage) for various songs, to wailing on the guitar up front.
There’s a concept in the concert world known as “bathroom break songs,” where a musician plays songs from their newest album, or newer work, and the audience leaves to go to the bathroom. That concept did not exist at this concert.
Each song captivated the audience. Literally. Every. Song. That mature group of people sitting in the middle? Singing along to every word. The free spirits? They danced. Those high school kids? They were pretending to not care to be at the concert, but I saw the words to “Title and Registration” slip from their lips. Myself? I kept looking back at my husband and yelling “BANGER!” at every song.
You know how rare it is for the whole concert to be constituted as a total banger? Very rare. It amazed me, too, that the band didn’t shy away from their biggest hits such as “Soul Meets Body.”
By the way, the show was going to take place at the Vetter Stone Amphitheater, but was moved due to weather. Though it would have been a great concert at the amphitheater — with the sun shying away from earth right around the time Death Cab would start their encore with “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” — I’m glad the weather got in the way.
The Civic Center is possibly one of the most user-friendly venues for not only getting around others and getting drinks or heading to the bathroom, but also actually viewing the artists.
At all times I was standing roughly 30 feet from the act without anything obstructing the view (except for phone screens of people Facebook Live-ing the whole thing. Don’t be that person.) And this was just in the general admission position. At any given location at the Civic Center, you have a clear view of the artist you paid to see which heightens the appreciation of any performance, especially an act like Death Cab.