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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, January 15, 2005

We Will Become Silhouettes

Tonight was one of those nights that makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in a great city like Seattle. Where else can you donate $15 to help support a Tsunami Relief fund and be treated to a great night of entertainment by members of some of today's best bands in return?

The Showbox put together a great lineup for tonight's Northwest Medical Teams benefit show featuring Dave Bazan (of Pedro the Lion), James Mercer (of The Shins) and Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie, The Postal Service, etc.) .

Dave Bazan was the first artist to come out to perform. As a big fan of Damien Jurado and a few similar bands, I constantly see Pedro The Lion popping up on recommended listening lists, but I've never really been able to get into them (though there are a few of their songs I really like). The show was solid but not spectacular, which was disappointing as I was really hoping to get into it more. A few highlights from the set were a cover of Randy Newman's 'Political Science' (is everyone required to cover this now-a-days?) and a Neil Young cover from On The Beach.

Next up was James Mercer, who brought Shins guitarist Dave Hernandez to play with him. Together they played a really strong set featuring some of my favorite Shins songs and even some pre-Shins tunes. I'd seen the Shins twice before in festival settings (ACL and Bumbershoot) and as much as I love their recorded albums I'd always left feeling a bit underwhelmed at their live shows. Fortunately that was not the case tonight as the music came across great in the smaller venue. I recently realized that the Shins are one of the few bands who I can listen to over and over again without ever learning any of the lyrics. I think this a tribute to James Mercer's voice, which never ceases to amaze me as he seems to be able to belt out the most melodic sounds with seemingly no effort.

The closing act was Ben Gibbard, and he more than lived up to the high expectations I had coming in. I've been a Death Cab fan for several years, but I've always preferred Ben's side projects such as All-Time Quarterback, his solo split EP on Post-Parlo records, the Postal Service, etc. Top that off with the fact that I usually prefer solo acoustic shows in general, and you can see why I was expecting such great things.

Ben came out sporting a fresh indie rock beard and played a great mix of new(ish) songs from Transatlanticism, old DCFC favorites, and even a new song he's working on for their next album (I believe it was titled "Broken Yolk Over Western Sky"). In addition to the Death Cab songs, he also mixed in a variety of other stuff including "You Remind Me of Home" from the Post-Parlo release, an outstanding cover of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and a cover of Spiritualized's Hold On. To top it off he even played "Such Great Heights" from the Postal Service album much to my delight and surprise (especially after reading the Postal Service article in the latest DIW Magazine).

All in all a great night and definitely one of the best shows I've been to in a long time.

Grainy photo of Ben Gibbard taken with my camera phone.