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Preview: Death Cab for Cutie at the Oxbow RiverStage

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Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab for Cutie performs at the Oxbow Riverstage in Napa on Oct. 23. 

Alternative rock legend Death Cab For Cutie from Bellingham, Washington will be stopping in the Napa Valley as part of their 2021 tour on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Oxbow RiverStage in Napa.

Fronted by singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard (also of The Postal Service), the group has been nominated for eight Grammy awards and will be touring their ninth studio album, "Thank You For Today," originally released in 2018 to critical acclaim. The band will be accompanied on their tour by Los Angeles-based indie punk rockers Illuminati Hotties.

Originally formed in 1997, Death Cab For Cutie broke into mainstream airplay with their 2003 record, "Transatlanticism," with the singles “The Sound of Settling,” and “Title and Registration,” both of which were featured in popular films and television shows of the era.

Following with their 2005 record, Plans, the band continued to top the Billboard Alternative charts with their singles “Soul Meets Body,” “Crooked Teeth,” and their highest-selling single to date, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” which currently holds more than 200 million plays on Spotify.

No strangers to Napa, the band has previously performed in the area at BottleRock 2016 and the 2019 Sonoma Harvest Music Festival. According to keyboardist/guitarist Dave Depper, the band is very excited to return to the region and to be back on the road again. “It’s been a very emotional and cathartic experience for us,” says Depper.

Depper says that he and the band were anxious about playing live again, but those apprehensions quickly faded once they were back onstage. “It’s been so long since we played together and our lives have changed so much. I know I wasn’t alone in feeling these anxieties, but once we were about four songs in, suddenly muscle memory took over and I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m on tour again, just like last time!’”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Death Cab For Cutie has made use of their time by performing live-stream concerts and raising more than $250,000 in donations and supplies for various Seattle-area relief funds.

In December 2020, the band released "The Georgia E.P." ahead of the Georgia runoff elections featuring covers of songs by Georgia-based artists. Originally released as a 24-hour BandCamp exclusive, the E.P. raised more than $100,000 for Stacie Abrams’ voting rights organization, Fair Fight Action, which promotes fair elections around the country through voter education, election reform, and combating voter suppression.

Death Cab For Cutie has always been a band that’s been unafraid to dabble in the political realm and say what they mean politically, exemplified in their 2016 single, “Million Dollar Loan,” which openly criticized then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

When asked if they feared alienation at all by taking a stance, Depper replies, “I suppose we do, but it doesn’t affect our actions. We stand behind what we believe in. It is sad to think about the polarizing environment that we’re in but you gotta plant your flag and stand by it.”

He adds, “I think it’s very important (that artists use their voice to spread their message). You don’t want to be preachy all the time but there are so many things that are so important these days it would be irresponsible not to do something.”

When asked what’s next for Death Cab For Cutie, Depper says, “We definitely have our sights set on our next record, so we’re excited about that! The pandemic has repeatedly spoiled or rescheduled plans but things are beginning to look a little more clear.”

Death Cab For Cutie plays at the Oxbow RiverStage on Saturday, Oct. 23. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online at the Oxbow RiverStage website with general admission tickets starting at $55 and VIP tickets at $125. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result required for entry.

Listening to music while you work can make a difference in productivity. Buzz60’s Keri Lumm has more.

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