Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA take over Bellingham

Odesza began their performance with suspenseful music followed by the appearance of two horn players. Odesza was formed in Bellingham in 2012 by Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. They performed at Double Major as the headliner with Death Cab for Cutie. // Photo by Emily Porter

By Allyson Roberts

For six hours, five bands and 13,000 fans packed into Civic Stadium Saturday afternoon for the long-awaited Double Major concert. The event was the largest music concert in Bellingham’s history, according to a press release from the Mayor’s Office.

Hosted on Alumni Weekend, the benefit concert brought together Western alumni bands Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA. All of the proceeds from the show were donated to the WWU Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment.

The concert also featured three openers, including Robotaki, Chong the Nomad and Lipstitch.  

Lipstitch bassist Danielle LeBeau said their Bellingham-based band received an offer to play by email, and when asked if they were free to open for ODESZA and Death Cab for Cutie, her response was “what kind of question is that?”  

Although most Lipstitch members were involved in projects before combining together, the band started in late 2017. The band also said it was their first experience playing for a crowd that large, and when they first got the offer to play, they didn’t realize how massive the event was going to be.

“We have not been a band for that long, and to be so fortunate as to be able to play a show like this so early in our time as a band is completely mind-blowing,” Lebeau said.

The opening artists then made way for the two widely-known headliners.

The members of Death Cab for Cutie joined together while attending Western in 1997, and the ODESZA duo started in 2012. While Death Cab’s first album went live in 1998, it was their fourth album “Transatlanticism” in 2003 that finally broke into the mainstream music scene. ODESZA, on the other hand, played their first large-scale show almost a month after releasing their first song in 2012.

Death Cab for Cutie, who originated in Bellingham, performed at the Double Major concert in honor of the Western alum. // Photo by Emily Porter

Western President Sabah Randhawa sent out a statement earlier in the week stating how exciting it was to have the bands back in their hometowns.

“Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA are not only inspiring students by showing what is possible with a Western degree, they’re inspiring the students of tomorrow through their support of scholarships,” Randhawa said in the statement. “We’re grateful and proud of their accomplishments and generosity and know this will be an Alumni Weekend to remember.”

The band members of Lipstitch agreed with Randhawa, saying how important it is to remember where they came from.

“I think a lot of artists do remember [where they came from] but not in this kind of way where it is so beneficial to the college and the community,” LeBeau said.

Bryan Hunter, drummer for Lipstitch, said that Double Major was a very “Bellingham way” of doing something big and beneficial.

Locals of Bellingham themselves, guitarist and lead singer Amanda Hodgins and guitarist Chris Williams lived with Hunter before the duo got married.  

“More people will be able to come to Western that maybe couldn’t have because there is more money in the scholarship fund,” Hodgins said. “Civic Field is actually a place people will want to come now.”

The final opener for the two headliners was DJ Alda Agustiano, also known as Chong the Nomad.

Chong the Nomad ran around the stage engaging with the audience as they got ready for Death Cab for Cutie. // Photo by Emily Porter

Originally from Seattle, Agustiano has been producing music since she was 14. She found out Death Cab for Cutie had been turned on to her music and said it was the craziest revelation ever.

“At first when I got the call from my manager about this gig I flipped [out], and I originally thought it was ODESZA’s agent that found me but it turns out it was Death Cab’s,” Agustiano said.

Double Major wasn’t Agustiano’s first large event, she said. She has performed at festivals such as Sasquatch, Capitol Hill Block Party and Summer Meltdown. However, she said she had never played something quite to the caliber of Double Major.

“I tell people I kinda blackout for the 30 minutes but honestly during that set I was really present,” Aguistiano said. “I wanted for once [to] pretend that the stage was all mine, and I did that and I’m really happy with what I did.”

Unlike Lipstitch, Agustiano knew the concert was going to be a benefit for the Alumni Association, and added she was immediately interested because education is important to her.  

“Coming back again to their hometown and throwing this for a cause just means a lot because it really shows just what music can do,” she said.

Agustiano said she looks up to both Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA and hopes that one day she can do something as big as Double Major.

Odesza was formed in Bellingham in 2012 by Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight. They performed at Double Major as the headliner with Death Cab for Cutie. // Photo by Emily Porter

The concert started at 5 p.m. and ended with an encore by ODESZA and their drumline around 11 p.m.. As ODESZA ended their set, the words “The right to choose is a women’s right” were displayed on the big screen in light of recent national events with more information about donating to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund.

After the show concluded, the Civic Stadium cleared and Bellingham streets and buses were once again flooded by the 13,000 attendees.

 

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