It goes both ways for Neil Young and his never-ending roster of hip opening bands: He lends them some time-tested credibility, and they ideally bring him a new crop of younger fans and reiterate his ageless coolness.
That formula -- which dates back to the early '90s when Young worked with bands such as Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam and Dinosaur Jr. -- was a winning one Tuesday night at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, where Young opened a tour with Seattle quartet Death Cab for Cutie as his opener du jour.
A good portion of the 6,000 or so ticketholders showed up in time for Death Cab, and plenty of them looked young enough to have heard the band on "The O.C." The new arena [literally and figuratively] seemed like a good fit for the band, which played a sold-out show at the Orpheum Theatre this year that emphasized its most energetic, electric, arena-ready songs.
Tuesday's 45-minute set was mostly more of the same. Pulsating, pounding rockers such as "The New Year" and "Long Division" captured the crowd early on, while moodier and more downbeat numbers such as "Soul Meets Body" did not fare so well.
Some of Death Cab's subtle power was also lost in the arena, which was set up at its half-size theater configuration (always a challenge to the acoustics). But the band nonetheless rocked later on with the recent heavy gem "I Will Possess Your Heart" and the closer "The Sound of Settling."
Everest -- a quintet of five scruffy-looking dudes from Los Angeles -- came off like an obvious choice for the first opening slot. After a 20-minute set that largely recalled Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"-era, the band finished with a cover of "Look at All the Things," written by Young's late guitarist Danny Whitten. It seemed a bit like cheating, but Everest nonetheless passed the night's test with flying colors.