There are a couple of booths about hundred feet away from where Death Cab for Cutie is testing out some of their new album, Narrow Stairs, at the Meehan Auditorium in Providence. One is hawking tee-shirts for charity — tempting, really, for the attendees of a concert that was pushed inside to avoid from the night's downpour — and another is trying to convince a crowd of mostly Brown students to give blood on the first Friday after finals.
And these booths are really messing around with the New Material Barometer.
Because, from all indications, this is a crowd that is loving the new stuff. Ben Gibbard is "kind of excited about our new album" — so excited that he even lead off the set with the album's opener, "Brixby Canyon Bridge." At that burst of energy mid-song, those late-teens in the first fifteen rows are jumping and half-headbanging to a song they don't know.
But, wait, maybe that's not a girl jumping up and down to the beat but jumping up and away from the prospect of accidentally signing up to give blood. Maybe that dude's half-headbanging because he's sopping wet. It's difficult to tell.
This barometer has given-blood all over its hands and post-Ivy-League-finals euphoria on the brain, but as the 17-song set (seven of them of the unheard of, Narrow Stairs variety) began to Febreze all those collegiate fluids away, people stayed. The energy went down and the crowd got a little more level-headed and sing-songy — "I Will Possess Your Heart" got the mouthing-the-words treatment throughout the arena — but optimism for the new stuff remained high.
The ultimate proof that Narrow Stairs needle was pointed firmly on the good side when the barometer dried up completely Friday night? When Gibbard, Chris Walla and crew snuck possible second single "Your New Twin Sized Bed" into the encore, the people embraced it like it was a well-worn favorite.