Death Cab for Cutie
The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016
Ben Gibbard doesn’t need to do much to create an intimate atmosphere for Death Cab for Cutie fans. The band made what seems like an annual trip to Dallas this week and played to a packed crowd at The Bomb Factory on Wednesday night.
Known for their emotionally-charged lyrics and Gibbard’s identifiable voice, Death Cab has stayed near the top of the alt-rock genre for more than a decade. Touring members Dave Depper and Zac Rae joined Gibbard, drummer Jason McGerr and bassist Nick Harmer in creating a polished show that you can expect from a band at their level. The issue was that the presentation felt almost too polished as the band cruised through nearly two-dozen songs. ?i
The set kicked off with “No Room in Frame” from 2015's Kintsugi, so named for the Japanese word for repairing cracked ceramics with rare metals like gold. “You’re my wanderer, little wanderer,” Gibbard sings in a likely ode to ex-wife Zooey Deschanel. “Won’t you wander back to me?”
Gibbard paused the set for only a couple brief moments in the show to speak to the crowd. “I’ve always said y’all,” the Washington native said at one point. “But y’all can take credit for that.” In the past four years, he's tangled with drugs, a failed marriage and the exit of the band's guitarist and producer, Chris Walla. Instead of banter, he spent most of the show swaying back and forth in front of the microphone and trading guitars with roadies.
Fortunately, the emotional vulnerability of the music saved the show from becoming robotic. It became clear that Gibbard wasn’t afraid to bleed on the page when he wrote the lyrics to the latest album. The lyrics provided a genuine sense of intimacy that rescued the show from feeling too synthetic. “Oh, I need not been flattered, that you’ve never been here before,” Gibbard sang on another of the new tracks, “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive.” “So there’s no need to mention, that you’ve no firsts anymore.”
The nearly two-hour set included crowd pleasers like “President of What?” off of the band’s first album and an acoustic solo of “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” from Gibbard. The set list featured six songs from Kintsugi and singles from throughout the bands discography.
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Fans couldn’t seem to get enough of the show and sang along to songs like “Soul Meets Body” and “Black Heart Sun.” After nearly 20 songs, the band returned to the stage for a three-song encore and Death Cab proved that they can still deliver a powerful show nearly two decades after they started — warts, lineup changes and all, no matter how much polish gets used to smooth it all out.
The night kicked off with a 40-minute set from the grungy alt-rock band Bully. Led by Alicia Bognanno, the band out of Nashville sounded delightfully lost in time with their ’90s indie-grunge attitude. Bognanno’s voice was a little strained, possibly from the previous night’s show in Houston with Death Cab, but she still managed to belt out the chorus of songs like “Trash.” It was a great opening set, but they could have been a great matchup for this weekend’s Dinosaur Jr. concert. Alas.