The Rifflandia Festival took over bars, clubs, public spaces, and Royal Athletic Park in Victoria last weekend as dozens of acts like Girl Talk, Serena Ryder, Dragonette, The Skatalites, Dear Rouge, Head of the Herd, Jon and Roy, The Airborne Toxic Event, We Hunt Buffalo, and Death Cab for Cutie entertained audiences of all ages.
On Saturday, September 13th, Seattle-based Death Cab for Cutie took to the main stage at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria to play their very last show together, with all original members. Co-founder and guitarist Chris Walla announced his departure from the band earlier this summer and this was his final performance. As long time fans of the band, John and I were very excited to cover this momentous event.
Music has always been an important part of our relationship and, way back when, Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism was the first album that John gave me when we first met. We’ve enjoyed their entire catalogue over the years and even played some of their songs at our wedding in 2006. Following their career and their music over the years, including their last album Codes and Keys which was recorded at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, it was important to us to make it to this show at Rifflandia — and it was even more magical than we could ever have imagined.
Death Cab for Cutie at Rifflandia
Knowing that it was Walla’s last show already made the performance in Victoria special, and I saw many on Twitter share that this was a “bucket list” concert for them. The fact that a meteor streaked across the night sky during their set was incredible to believe, making the send-off entirely unique.
The band came out playing “I Will Possess Your Heart” followed by “Crooked Teeth”. We spent the first two songs in the photo pit madly attempting to document the scene as vocalist Ben Gibbard took to the keyboard and bassist Nick Harmer bounced around in front of Jason McGerr on the drums. Walla was the focus for John, over on the right side of the stage.
“We Laugh Indoors” and “Photobooth” followed before Ben Gibbard told to the crowd that it had been 13 years since their last show in Victoria: “We’ll be playing a lot of old tunes tonight,” he announced as the band continued with “Title and Registration”, “Doors Unlocked and Open”, and “Long Division” during which the meteor passed by overhead.
“Grapevine Fires” had the crowd swooning, holding up lighters and glowing phones, as did “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, which was once voted as one of the most beautiful songs of all time.
“Title Track” off of the band’s We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes from 2000 was a nice throwback, “New Year” got the crowd jumping again, as did “Cath”, and “Soul Meets Body” before they left the stage.
Craving more, the audience made their request for an encore known. The group returned to the stage for “Movie Script Ending”, which was followed by the very last song with Chris Walla — an up tempo version of “Marching Bands of Manhattan”. A bittersweet ending to a bittersweet moment in time.
The end of the set was capped off with a full band group hug on stage as thousands bid farewell and best of luck to Chris Walla. Death Cab will live on however, having just recorded a new album that will be released in early 2015.