The party can’t go on forever. This year’s weeklong Noise Pop Festival went out with a bang, a sigh and swaying fans came to worship at the whim of Ben Gibbard last night. Headlining a rare solo show at a packed Great American Music Hall, the indie rock icon brought out the nostalgia and a little of the future of his band Death Cab for Cutie with tons of favorites and a teasers from the band’s newest and seventh record Codes and Keys, due in late May.
Zach Rogue of Oakland’s Rogue Wave graciously warmed up the quiet crowd, testing a few new songs and delivering a perfect acoustic version of “Publish my Love.” He even threw in a stripped down cover of Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” that was just downright pretty.
Anxiously, couples with hands clasped and oddly-large groups of men in plaid all stood in quiet reverence of Gibbard’s acoustic prose, some even announcing that they skipped church to make the Sunday night show. To honor the sacrifice, Gibbard played a generous track listing of well-known Death Cab and Postal Service anthems like “Cath” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” He held his own between a guitar and a piano, but even the most satisfying solo shows call for a token special guest duet (no, it wasn’t Gibbard’s wife Zooey Deschanel, much to my dismay). That turned out to be Bob Mould, with whom Gibbard did a fresh and lightly rehearsed “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” The crowd composed themselves and Gibbard carried on with the satisfied grin of someone who just played alongside their idol.
After a generous encore, Gibbard ended the night on a surefire note with “Brand New Colony” and though it has been nearly a decade since that song became synonymous with coffee shop ambience and college love, it can still draw any mixtape or show to a perfect close.
Text by Kelly Mendez