Sunfest 2016: Death Cab for Cutie

Ben Gibbard I
Guitarist-frontman Ben Gibbard

Ben Gibbard, guitarist-vocalist for this veteran alt-rock band, felt compelled to identify his group at both the beginning and the end of Death Cab’s Sunfest set, a good strategy for bar bands starting out but not one usually employed by festival headliners. Perhaps Gibbard had his own transformation in mind, though. Music fans familiar with the early years of the group’s existence might wonder what happened to its slightly pudgy, bespectacled frontman. But thanks to taking up running and losing the glasses, Gibbard now looks more like a matinee idol than the introspective songwriter that he still is.

Ben Gibbard II

Ben’s makeover might be for the best, though, given how energetic the band’s stage show is.

When not singing, Gibbard would run around the stage playing guitar with his band-mates. Death Cab Guitar Trio

Songs like “Crooked Teeth” and “The New Year” are filled with guitars, so both touring members Dave Depper and Zac Rae play guitar in addition to keyboards.

The set featured several tracks from the group’s latest album, 2015’s Kintsugi:  the low-key “Black Sun”, the energetic “Ghosts of Beverly Drive”, and “Little Wanderer”, an introspective ballad with atmospheric guitar arpeggios. Older material performed included “No Sunlight” and “I Will Possess You” (from 2008’s Narrow Stairs ),  and “President of What? ” (from the group’s  1997 debut You Can Play These Songs With Chords ). The band closed the regular set with one of its best-known songs, the breezy acoustic-guitar rocker “Soul Meets Body”, but thankfully omitted its biggest hit, the hopelessly morbid “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.”

The two-song encore consisted of  “Marching Band from Manhattan” from its popular 2005 release Plans, and “Transatlanticism” ,  the title track of the group’s 2003 release. This was played solo by Gibbard, who abandoned his guitars to sit behind the piano to perform this ballad.

Gibbard on Piano

Death Cab Stage Shot

Drummer Jason McGerr

Ben Gibbard III

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