NEW YORK — The Woodie Awards , mtvU’s annual celebration of college music and independent spirit, are often thought of as the raucous kid brother to the Video Music Awards. They feature artists on the fringes of various music scenes and bands who are only a radio hit or buzzworthy live show away from breaking into the big time. This year’s show was no different, featuring envelope-pushing weirdos like Matt and Kim and Passion Pit.
So what were Death Cab for Cutie — a band that has sold millions of records for a major label and whose recent hit is attached to the most hotly anticipated Hollywood movie of the season — doing there? They were teaching the kids how it’s done.
Eschewing twitchy raucousness for the kind of stateliness usually reserved for the likes of bands like U2 and Coldplay, Ben Gibbard and his band filled Roseland Ballroom with the regal noise and big hooks of “Meet Me on the Equinox,” the new single from the soundtrack to “New Moon.”
But rather than appear as the tiny band that sold out, they were greeted as the local boys who made good in the outside world. Death Cab for Cutie spent the better part of a decade toiling on the margins, and they provided a glimpse into what is possible if you truly stick to your guns and carve out a niche for yourself. Indeed, Death Cab for Cutie simply became too good for the mainstream to ignore.
As far as “Meet Me on the Equinox” goes, the band absolutely killed it. Guitarist Chris Walla’s towering, atmospheric power chords hung over the room like a great cloud of goth energy, while Gibbard crooned the song’s melancholy refrain. “Everything/ Everything ends,” goes the chorus, but for any young bands — or rapt fans, for that matter — watching Death Cab on Wednesday evening (November 18), “Equinox” represented the beginning of a possibility. “Thanks,” Gibbard mumbled as the band left the stage, proving no amount of “Twilight” fandom or Hollywood spouses can take the indie out of certain people.
Don’t miss the 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards, airing on December 4 at 10 p.m. on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU!