By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
When it comes to the rock-radio airwaves, forget well-coifed hipsters or impeccably attired starlets. These days, the geeks have inherited the earth. The popular, chewy, pastoral pop nugget "So Says I" comes from the Shins, four average Joes who look more like avid bowlers than talented musicians, while the emo upstarts of Yellowcard prominently feature a frantic violin in their punkish "Ocean Avenue." Even the White Stripes dress alike onstage -- the No. 1 sign of eternal dorkdom, as any denizen of a high school marching band will attest.
Now consider the case of Death Cab for Cutie, perhaps the quintessential example of musical geekitude around today. Started by vocalist-guitarist Ben Gibbard as a solo project in 1997, the Seattle quartet has evolved into becoming the patron saint of hopeless romantics, black-framed-glasses-wearing dorks and indie obsessives everywhere.
Much love goes to Gibbard's trembling tenor and his lyrics, which perpetually find him as the troubadour-equivalent of Jon Cryer's unrequited-love-laden Duckie from the classic '80s flick Pretty in Pink. "A Lack of Color" laments, "I know it's too late/I should have given you a reason to stay," while "Registration" sadly notes, "There's no blame for how our love did slowly fade/And now that it's gone, it's like it wasn't there at all."
There's not much anger in the music, but you'll find plenty at the show: Death Cab is opening for Pearl Jam as a part of the "Vote for Change" concerts set up in swing states to motivate the anti-Bush crowd. Would Jon Cryer do that?