Death Cab for Cutie, with Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins. At the Arlington Theatre, Wednesday, December 6.
Reviewed by Brier Random
To any unsuspecting pedestrian strolling State Street last Wednesday night, it would be forgivable to presume the Arlington was hosting some Urban Outfitters-sponsored fashion show for the under-21 set. Indeed, the crowd spilling in and out of the theater was decidedly hip, effortlessly dressed, and ready to pay homage to one of indie rock’s most important bands.
Opening the night were Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins, with their indie-goes-country sweetness, and they didn’t disappoint. Lewis invokes Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn in equal measures. And those Watson twins, swaying in their black gowns and crooning sweet gospel harmonies, were the icing on Lewis’s cake. But it was clear whose name was on the marquee when Death Cab for Cutie walked onstage and the crowd went Beatlemania (an apt comparison considering Ben Gibbard’s moptop and round, cherubic face). Their energetic set featured the highlights from their two most recent albums, plus gems like “President of What?” from their first album and the excellent “Why You’d Want to Live Here,” an indictment of superficial Los Angeles and a staple at their SoCal gigs.
Gibbard alternated between guitar (on the rock side of the spectrum) and piano (for the quieter tales of love lost) with equal effectiveness. He even commandeered a mini drum kit for some dueling percussion on “We Looked Like Giants.” The highlight was fan favorite “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” a heartbreaking song of love-after-death that had everyone singing along and a few holding back tears. Encore time didn’t bring about a hoped-for Postal Service reunion with Jenny Lewis (who lent her vocals to Gibbard’s side project), but a loose version of “Sound of Settling” was a fitting climax to a crowd-pleasing show. For one night, the Arlington was the center of the indie-rock universe, and what a beautiful universe it was.