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Bellingham artists returned home to rock the double major concert


Odesza lights up the stage as they close out a long night and say farewell to their 13,000+ person hometown crowd at Civic Stadium, Saturday, May 18.

Alec McGreevy, Reporter

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, hometown rockers Death Cab For Cutie and electronic duo Odesza made a grand return to Bellingham, the mutual stomping grounds for the musical groups back in the day. Both alumni of Western Washington University, they combined their musical efforts to put on a show for over 13,000 fans at Civic Stadium. All proceeds from the show were donated to WWU’s Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment, in order to pay homage to their alma mater as well as to help out undergraduate students with the increasingly costly prices of a college education, hence the name “Double Major”. 

Once doors opened at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, local rock band “Lipstitch” kicked things off followed by Toronto DJ “Robotaki” and Seattle EDM artist “Chong the Nomad”.  

“It was absolutely surreal. We feel honored and grateful to have been invited to be a part of it. Considering that all of us have been listening to ‘Death Cab’ since we were pre-teens, it felt unbelievable,” Amanda Hodgins, guitarist and lead vocalist of Lipstitch, said. “Bellingham really has been the best place to start our journey, so it felt like things were really coming full circle getting to be a part of Bellingham history with two acts who also got their start here.”  

Finally, Death Cab For Cutie took to the stage, opening their performance with “I Dreamt We Spoke Again” and going on to play fan favorites such as “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” and “Soul Meets Body”. They carried on a captivating show for multiple hours with dynamic use of instrumentation, blending their set together with grunge-esque alternative rock anthems that flowed into deep and meaningful piano ballads.  

Odesza closed down the night with a nearly two hour DJ set that began at 9:30 p.m. bringing the majority of the remaining crowd in the stands down to the field. A choreographed drumline, live horn players, and guest singers all made appearances throughout the performance as Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills of Odesza drove the show home with their over-the-top visuals and ability to hype the crowd up with their futuristic, bass-heavy, electronic rhythms.  

 Both bands are now currently based out of Seattle, but first crossed paths while playing at a concert in Southern California where they hit it off and came up with the concept for “Double Major”. And though this was not Death Cab’s nor Odesza’s first time returning to Bellingham since they graduated from Western, having a homecoming this publiclicized made for an extra-sentimental performance. “It is packed full of nostalgia. Every nook and cranny of that town has a memory for me,” Harrison Mills told The Seattle Times. Death Cab’s members expressed similar emotions. “This band wouldn’t have become what it’s become without Bellingham being the art hub for at least the first couple years,” Ben Gibbard, Death Cab’s frontman, told The Seattle Times. 

Joining the band in 2003, Jason McGerr, Death Cab For Cutie’s drummer,  helped propel the band to their massive gold and platinum record sales. The band originally formed in 1997 when the members attended WWU together, but didn’t experience large commercial success until McGerr secured his position in the group. McGerr, a seven-time Grammy nominee [via Death Cab’s nominations], who has guest-drummed on Late Night with Seth Meyers, signed deals with companies like Gretsch Drums, and even recorded with other bands like Tegan & Sara. holds a extra close connection to Bellingham compared to the rest of his band. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, McGerr attended Sehome High School where he played in the school’s jazz band. 

With the recent demolition of the old Sehome campus, the band’s song “Gold Rush” off their latest album, Thank You For Todaywas a fitting sign of the times for this visit back home for McGerr specifically. The track talks about the ever-changing skyline of Seattle and places surrounding it, and how locations they once spent so much of their time, can suddenly vanish.  

Craig Snyder (Sehome band instructor), remembers teaching McGerr when he was a high school student. “[He was a] great person, really quiet, and really serious about his musicianship. He spent long hours with his headphones on inside the practice rooms. I first got to know him when he was a freshman, but he always seemed older than he actually was. He was ahead of his years and his head was in the game.”  

After rocking Bellingham to its core on the 18th, Death Cab For Cutie hopped right back onto the road, with over 30 shows remaining on their 2019 tour that began in late March. This summer, the band will play sets at Firefly Music Festival, Lollapalooza, and even the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan before wrapping up their tour on September 8th, at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA.  

Odesza will be spending the better half of their summer headlining festivals such as Bonnaroo, Camp Nowhere and Electric Forest.  

As the musical groups draw in die-hard followings, sell out shows worldwide, and land records on the Billboard charts, they continue to make it very clear that they dug their roots deep. Bellingham is where it all began, and by bringing the music that the town once helped inspire back for “Double Major”, Death Cab For Cutie and Odesza showed that Bellingham is more than just their college-day stomping grounds, it’s also a place they are proud to have called home.

Sehome’s Jazz Band at the 14th annual Viking Jazz Festival in Poulsbo, WA on February 2, 1990, featuring a young Jason McGerr (top left) on drums