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
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.