When the Summerstage lineup was announced last spring, one show clearly stood out from the rest. To have three of the most popular indie-pop bands playing the same bill at Central Park was as much a Seth Cohen dream come true as it was for Gothamist. Naturally, we were there.
Stars were up first. Anybody who hasn't yet heard their 2005 release Set Yourself on Fire (Which Gothamist reviewed back in March) is truly missing out on one of the great pop gems of the year. They stirred up a passionate set of songs exclusively off the latest release. While it's always a pleasure to see them perform, it was unfortunately more or less the same show for anyone who caught them at any of their previous 5 shows in New York this year. Still, a very good set.
Next were The Decemberists, who have not been New York-shy this year either. Including the two solo sets by frontman Colin Meloy last January, this was the 6th time they've been through town this year so far, with two more shows at Webster Hall on the horizon. Despite the potential for monotony, these guys never fail to entertain and remain fresh. Meloy (who we interviewed earlier this week), tells his tales of chimney sweeps and unattainable love appropriately with a tongue-in-cheek, and it comes off so naturally live, it’s impossible not to be charmed. It’s a shame these opening sets at Summerstage are so short, because the crowd seemed to be out last night as much for them as they were for the headliner.
Finally, while the recent mainstream success and OC-ization of Death Cab for Cutie would seem to be a perfect build up for a letdown, they managed to put together one of the best shows Gothamist has seen them play in a very long time. There was a solid mix of songs from their entire catalogue, including a few tracks off the upcoming major label release, Plans. A band like this could easily get away with sitting back and moping through their shows, but Gibbard and Co. perpetually remain animated and in motion, adding a dimension to their sets that many similar bands lack. For an encore, they had the Decemberists come out to join them to play a cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'Go Your Own Way', with Gibbard and Meloy trading off vocals verse by verse. It was a delightful novelty to cap off what was overall another exceptional night of music.