On Sunday, August 11th, Death Cab for Cutie lead singer Benjamin Gibbard celebrated his forty-third birthday with a headline performance at the renowned Hollywood Bowl. With a career spanning more than twenty years, DCFC has firmly found a place for in the American alternative rock scene. Having just released their ninth studio album, the band has become known for their unique and signature blend of melancholy pop-rock that hits with velocity and resonates with passion. Touring extensively through 2018 and 2019 in support of their most recent album release Thank You for Today, Death Cab played to a packed Los Angeles crowd eager to fulfill their teenage angst.
Car Seat Headrest set the stage for Death Cab for Cutie, providing a stirring and poignant yet underrated performance. With an uncanny number of parallels to Death Cab for Cutie, Car Seat Headrest proved to be the perfect opening band. Originally a solo project from Will Toledo, his tenor alt-rock voice powerfully sang songs such as 2011’s “Bodys” and “Sober to Death” to an enthralled audience. As Car Seat Headrest neared the end of their set, Hollywood Bowl attendees revved up for Death Cab for Cutie’s highly anticipated set.
Predominantly performing material from their mid-career and most popular period to date, Death Cab for Cutie demonstrated their musical prowess. Gibbard proved his musicianship as he seamlessly transitioned from keyboard to the guitar several times, exhibiting equal talent in both instruments. What really stole the show was Gibbard's wistful and mesmerizing poetic lyricism and intensely distinctive voice. Jamming out on fan favorites such as “I Will Possess Your Heart" and “Soul Meets Body,” ardent fans sang along as the band delivered a magnetic performance replete with bass, warped synths, dueling guitars, and rock piano interludes.
Sounding much like their musical recordings, Gibbard and the rest of the band displayed their radiant energy as they played full out, demonstrating hypnotic energy. Death Cab for Cutie also performed lesser-known works such as “Tiny Vessels" and “Styrofoam Plates” that demonstrated the band’s musicality. To complement their powerful musical performance, Death Cab also showcased an impressive light show reminiscent to greats such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.
For their encore, Death Cab for Cutie performed fan-favorite “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” during which Gibbard stepped out of the spotlight and into the dark as fans sang fervidly sang along. The band culminated their compelling and dynamic set with an epic rendition of the band’s early track and more obscure track 2003’s “Transatlanticism.” As critically controversial as the band's career has been, Death Cab for Cutie proved their musical aptitude for a very special night at one of Los Angeles' most prestigious and respected venues.