(FYI: the Fillmore is what was once known as the TLA)
(PS- forgive the crappy pictures, I only had my cellphone)
Let me start with this: Ben Gibbard is my god. My idol. I love him; if he came to my door and said “COME IVY, I SHALL WHISK YOU AWAY ON MY MAGIC CARPET TO MY MAGICAL KINGDOM, FROM WHENCE WE SHALL NEVER RETURN!”, I would totally go. In a heartbeat. So when I heard he was coming to Philadelphia, I ordered tickets the minute they went on sale (and unlike The White Stripes, I actually got them…grrrrr…). Two months later, the night was finally here!
I arrive at the Fillmore ten minutes after the doors open, and there’s already a fair amount of people inside. Dan and I manage to squeeze ourselves in on the left-hand side, one person away from the stage, with a perfect view of the microphone. Brilliant!
The opening acts were Jonathan Rice and David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion fame). I had never heard Rice’s name before, but I dig Pedro the Lion, so I figured it’d be all good. I was wrong, unfortunately.
I’m not sure if Jonathan Rice was drunk or if he’s actually mentally retarded in some way. His songs were just as nonsensical as the ramblings that went on between them. He had shoulder length greasy hair, disturbingly tight pants, and breathed through his mouth. From a musical standpoint, he was nothing special; wordy songs about nothing/girls sung falsetto over a folky strum that never changed from song to song. He also made the goofiest faces I have ever seen (worse than John Mayer!), so I couldn’t really watch him, since I was giggling and, being so close to the stage, I was afraid he would see me.
David Bazan I liked for the first two songs and then was instantly done. Every single one of his songs sounded exactly alike, and his lyrics were boring, or at their worst, actually gross (there was one line where he referenced “curly hair and folds of skin”….ewwww). He was intensely boring to watch, with no real stage presence to speak of. Just as I thought he was wrapping up, a stagehand informed him that he still had forty-five minutes to kill. By that point, I was so impatient for Ben Gibbard to come on that I just couldn’t watch him anymore and fiddled around with my cellphone while he was wrapping up his set.
Then, the moment came. Ben Gibbard walked out on stage, launched into a tune by Donovan, which smoothly turned into “Brand New Colony” (a particular favorite of mine). He went on to play mostly acoustic versions of Death Cab songs, including a beautiful and rather intense piano version of “Soul Meets Body”, and a song from the upcoming Death Cab release (rumors say early ’08) entitled “Casino Blues”. Highlights for me included “Why You’d Want To Live Here”, “The Sound of Settling”, and “A Lack of Color” (which he played for the encore).
I LOVE YOU BEN!
He also played one song from his split EP with Andrew Kenny (“You Remind Me of Home”), and a couple of Postal Service songs (“Such Great Heights”, “We Will Become Silhouettes”). “We Will Become Silhouettes” was probably my favorite song he played all night, he gave it a new life that the album version was definitely lacking. One of the best parts of the night were the songs he chose to cover. He performed a song by The Mountain Goats, as well as Nirvana’s “All Apologies” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (that was a lot of fun). He wrapped the whole evening up by playing “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, and I was quickly hustled out by the TLA’s staff, so it was readily apparent that he was not coming out to sign any autographs.
Oh well, I saw him, and that’s enough for me.
Come back soon, Mr. Gibbard.