1999: Death Cab on Campus

Before world fame, the indie rock band played the Fairhaven Auditorium

It cost just $5 to see Death Cab for Cutie perform on campus in 1999, according to this story in the Western Front on Jan. 9. 

Before Death Cab went on to earn eight Grammy nominations and become arguably the most famous indie rock band to come out of Bellingham, the group played before appreciative crowds at the Underground Coffeehouse, the Fairhaven Auditorium and other campus venues. 

Lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard, ’98, started Death Cab for Cutie while majoring in environmental science at Western. Other original bandmates included fellow alum Nick Harmer, '98, B.A., English.

The venues have changed, but giving back to the Western community is still a priority for the band. 

In 2018, they played Bellingham’s Civic Field with friends and WWU alumni, ODESZA. The concert, billed “Double Major,” raised about $14,000 in scholarship funds.

Later, Gibbard and photographer Rachel Demy established the Demy-Gibbard Scholarship at Western for students interested in pursuing environmental studies. 

Meanwhile, Death Cab for Cutie is still drawing appreciative crowds. The band just wrapped a national tour last month. 

But those $5 tickets are just a memory. 

Western Front 1999 news clipping Death Cab for Cutie to play at Fairhaven with a photo of the band
Western Front, Jan. 8, 1999