For one night the HiFi was once again its music venue predecessor, Brownies, for what was an amazing night of stripped-down, mainly acoustic performances by Beth Wawerna of Birds Of Youth and Ben Gibbard, the voice and soul of Death Cab For Cutie.
Beth Wawerna kicked off the night with an assortment of new tunes from Birds Of Youth, which was shrunk to a modest three-piece for the night. She put on a great set filled with solid full-band harmonies, witty lyrical word play and a solid Elvis Costello cover of his classic song “Girls Talk.”
Soon after, the man everyone was waiting for took the stage. Gibbard, who was celebrating the release of his first solo album, Former Lives, stepped in front of the mic wielding his guitar and crooned the opening lyrics to his first song, which brought the crowd to a hush and set the mood for the rest of the performance.
Gibbard played for a solid hour and a half, performing a mix of songs from the new album and crowd favorites from both Death Cab For Cutie’s catalog and selections from Postal Service. Standout tunes included new tracks “Teardrop Windows,” “ Lady Adelaide” and “I’m Building A Fire.” Lyrically these songs were Gibbard at his best, painting pictures of relationships both failed and blossoming. These songs shined through even more during this show since it was literally just Gibbard and his guitar, which has given me an even deeper appreciation for him as a songwriter as well as a singer.
To finish off the show he performed some amazing acoustic versions of “Soul Meets Body,” “Title And Registration” and finished the night off with a simple version of Postal Service’s “District Sleeps Alone Tonight.” The acoustic approach on these songs in an intimate setting left Gibbard with nothing to hind behind—and as one of the most poignant singer-songwriters of his time, he didn’t it.
Photos by Rebecca Smeyne