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It’s not every day that you get to see Death Cab for Cutie play a 550-capacity venue like Music Hall of Williamsburg. The staggering setting for such a band was put into perspective later in the night, when frontman Ben Gibbard announced that they’d be returning to New York this fall to play the much less intimate Madison Square Garden. That notion made me truly appreciate what I was witnessing, on top of the great 22-song set of Death Cab songs both old and new that spoke for itself.

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Fellow Seattle resident Eric Elbogen, otherwise known as Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom) started things off in style. After listening to Eric’s music for so many years, it was cool to finally see the performer behind the project. The crowd responded quite positively┬áto his music, helped by the short but hilarious Q&A he did between songs, totally breaking down any barrier between us and him. He had the crowd with him all the way, an amazing feat for anyone, but even more impressive for someone opening before a pretty major act. Well down, Eric.

The departure of long-time Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla is the talk of the town these days, and his absence was definitely strange at first. Yet, it didn’t take long for me to forget about all that, as the always familiar presence of Ben Gibbard, Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr is enough to keep the cab running. Not to mention that Dave Depper (Ray LaMontagne, Fruit Bats, Robyn Hitchcock, Menomena) and Zac Rae (Fiona Apple, Lana Del Rey) are solid additions to the live band. At no point during the show did a song feel different without Walla, which is a credit to all parties involved. Considering that this was only the second show ever for the new lineup, they managed just fine.

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With new album Kintsugi on the way, Death Cab teased some of the album with performances of current single “Black Sun,” as well as the rather hard hitting “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” and the widescreen “No Room in Frame.” Surprising as it may have been to only get to hear three new songs, fans of older Death Cab material had to be pleased.

This made room for deep cut favorites stretching as far back as “Company Calls/Company Calls Epilogue” and “Photobooth.” The regular set finished in epic fashion with a power run of “The New Year,” “Cath,” “Soul Meets Body,” and “The Sound Of Settling.” And then there’s Ben Gibbard’s solo performance of “I Will Follow You In The Dark,” which has grown to become one of the bands definitive moments for sure. Pretty much every era of Death Cab was touched upon, giving us a balanced look at their career, something a lot rarer than it should be at live shows.

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There was memorable banter from Gibbard, who talked about kicking his habit of spitting on stage, as well as the not so terrible “blizzard” that hit New York and the response of news outlets such as Fox News. A fan responded by shouting out “we will rebuild,” which got a laugh from everyone, including Mr. Gibbard. But the best moments had to be when Gibbard broke the news that they would be returning in the fall to play Madison Square Garden, a notion that even he was blown away by.

It will be pretty amazing for the band to headline MSG in a few months, but I don’t think it can possibly top getting to see them rock out only a few feet away from me at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Seth Cohen would be proud.


1. I Will Possess Your Heart
2. Crooked Teeth
3. Why’d You Want To Live Here
4. Photobooth
5. Doors Unlocked and Open
6. Grapevine Fires
7. Black Sun
8. What Sarah Said
9. Title Track
10. The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
11. Company Calls
12. Company Calls Epilogue
13. Title and Registration
14. You Are a Tourist
15. The New Year
16. Cath
17. Soul Meets Body
18. The Sound of Settling


19. I Will Follow You Into the Dark
20. No Room in Frame
21. No Sunlight
22. Transatlanticism

Say Hi:

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Death Cab for Cutie:

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Death Cab for Cutie – “Black Sun” (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg):

Death Cab for Cutie – “The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive” (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg):

Death Cab for Cutie – “Transatlanticism” (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg):

Death Cab for Cutie – “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg):

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