Ben Gibbard brought his solo tour to Sixth and I recently. ‘Twas an amazing show – one of my favorites of the year.
Owen Ashworth, who performs under the name Advance Base, opened the show. He was a mellow, one-man show playing keyboard and autoharp augmented by a drum machine. His between song banter was humorous and endearing. He seemed like a very chill guy, and his music reflected that. The mellow sounds worked in the environment. I fear it would have trouble filling a larger venue. But with everyone quiet and sitting, it was fine. I appreciated the irony of him bookending his set with two songs about Christmas – “Christmas in Oakland” and “Christmas in Milwaukee” – a first for the synagogue, I’m sure. The only complaint I would make is that the songs could be too literal at times lyrically. Every song seemed to have a straightforward intro – “The song is about my cat” – followed by lyrics that, you guessed it, were about his cat. The results therefore were a bit simple.
Ben Gibbard was all sorts of fantastic. He performed a mix of his work – new solo songs, classic Death Cab tracks, and Postal Service jams sans electronica. It was just him on an acoustic guitar and the simplicity was beautiful. Almost all the songs sounded better in this stripped-down set up. He also did a short set on piano, including a cover of “Filler” by Minor Threat that was mind blowing. Ben Gibbard on piano is about as opposite of Minor Threat as you can get, but somehow it worked brilliantly. Ben said that he was trying to do something special in each town on the tour, so that was a nice nod to the DC legends.
Just when I was expecting him to end his four-song encore with “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” since, ahem, that song is made for a solo acoustic show, he instead busted out a slowed-down version of “Such Great Heights.” It was unexpected and a fabulous way to end the show. Though I’m still a little sad that I didn’t get to hear “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Next time, I guess.
BYT review and pictures here.