Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mr. Gibbard, You've got some splainin to do...

By d-mac
I'm not mad at you, Ben Gibbard. I'm just, well... disappointed.

Last night's show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta just left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I could tell from the start that something was awry. When you walked out on stage solo, sat down at the keyboards and began to play "Passenger Seat", you just seemed a little out of it. I don't know if it was a slight crack in your voice, or your apparent frustration with the microphone you kept adjusting, or the way you just never seemed to get comfortable with the crowd, but you weren't the same consummate indie-rocker that I saw light up the stage at Variety Playhouse twice in '03 and '04. In your defense, I'd imagine having to be so inexorably emo seven nights a week has to take it's toll on you vocally and physically after awhile. You've got to be exhausted by now.

I thought it was brilliant how smoothly you transitioned from "Passenger Seat" into "Different Names For The Same Thing" to open the show. It was the perfect way to hush the crowd and get us prepared for the second half of the second song, where the band comes crashing in with all of the electronic farts and bleeps that we anticipated so eagerly. I was also very pleased to hear "The New Year", "Title and Registration", "Photobooth", among other favorites. It was a good performance, don't get me wrong, but if we're being honest here, I expected better out of you, Benjamin.

Before I go too far, let me assure you that I wouldn't want to say or do anything to jeopardize our almost four-year relationship. We've had such great times together. I still remember the day a co-worker slipped me the new Postal Service album and I listened to it incessantly at work, in the car, at home, in the shower, for weeks on end. I went back and listened to the albums you'd made with your band, Death Cab For Cutie, and eagerly awaited your new releases. I was blown away by Transatlanticism, and then again more recently by Plans. We became fast friends. You always knew the right things to say, and I was such a good listener. It worked. I even introduced you to my friends, and they loved you too. We still do.

But you could have given us a little more last night. Where was that energy you brought to the stage in shows past? Remember when you played "We Looked Like Giants" in '04, and there was that part in the end with the long instrumental outro, and you and Nathan or Michael or Jason, or whomever the drummer was at the time BOTH played dueling drum solos (or duos, I guess) on the SAME drum kit? Remember?? That was... AWESOME! You totally changed that song for me that day. I never really even liked it before, and now I can't listen to it without singing along, "Do you remember the JAMC? And reading aloud from magazines?". You could have played that one again last night, Broseph. Or you could have at least played the one Chris Walla wrote, "Brothers On A Hotel Bed", but you didn't. You can imagine my surprise when in the middle of "The Sound Of Settling" you abruptly announced that well, it was that time of the night and then you barely played the last note of the song before you were already off the stage. What a rip. Sure, you came back out for an encore, including an acoustic "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" and the title track from your previous album, Transatlanticism, but you really had no choice there. It was the least you could have done.

So what was the deal, man? Were you not feeling well? Were you sandbagging for tonight's show? Was it something we did? Sure, I'll admit that we, your fans, have gone through a lot of changes lately. We've grown quite a bit, especially since your getting signed to a major label and the commercial success of your latest album, but what did you expect? Your average fan may be trading in his cardigan and courdoroys for cargos and croakies, but you keep writing radio-friendly gems like "Soul Meets Body" and you're bound to attract patrons of that ilk. Embrace it. Enjoy it. But we're not asking you to pander to it. The rest of us still like you just the way you were in the Barsuk days. We're okay with you and all these new fans you've been gallivanting around with, but just don't drift too far away us, okay?

Sorry for yelling. Now how 'bout some T&R for old times' sake?

Death Cab For Cutie - Title and Registration

I'm glad we had this talk.


Blogger newwavegurly said...

I'm sorry to hear that the show was disappointing on any level.

BTW, any good shows that are going to be up there your way in the next month or so (on a weekend)? I'm trying to plan a trip up there to see a friend, and we want to try and plan so that we can see a show while I'm there.

11:11 PM, April 07, 2006  
Blogger d-mac said...

Lots of good stuff coming soon... when were you shooting for? Mid-may looks especially good: Grupo Fantasma, Imogen Heap, The Flaming Lips... I'll have to check what else.

1:30 PM, April 08, 2006  
Blogger alannajoy said...

I'm glad we had this talk too D, someone had to come forward and speak up, and best it was YOU!

He sang acoustic "Follow You Into the Dark" as an encour back in the NYC when I saw him last fall.

Maybe he was just saving it for the next night... Did it rock any harder? Or maybe he's just gotten a littttle too comfy with these emo-riffic tunes and needs some time away to regroup and catch that sparkle again.

At any rate, I'm still totally jealous of you and your DC4C watching ways...


6:43 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger newwavegurly said...

Hmmmm, Imogen Heap seems very promising, as does The Flaming Lips. Let me know what else you come across.

8:13 PM, April 10, 2006  

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