Ben Gibbard is meticulous. Death Cab for Cutie opened their show at Stage AE’s outdoor venue with Kintsugi’s lead track, No Room In Frame. Immediately, it was clear that something was amiss. Gibbard kept signaling to the roadies and generally looked upset. The band diligently played through the song, but immediately upon its conclusion, 3 roadies rushed the stage and started messing with Gibbard’s gear while he took the mic.
“This band is called Death Cab for Cutie. This band is experiencing technical difficulties on the first song.” He paused. “This band is going to come back when everything’s figured out.” Gibbard immediately left the stage, much to his band’s bewilderment. As the band awkwardly hung out onstage while the roadies tried to fix the problem, the audience chatted to each other about how bizarre the moment was. Gibbard came back onstage and started playing Crooked Teeth only to find that his guitar was out of tune. He stopped playing and just muttered, “Are you kidding me?” while tuning his guitar.
Yet after a rocky start, it was smooth sailing. Death Cab played most of the songs that the audience wanted to hear, from Soul Meets Body, No Sunlight, You Are A Tourist, Cath and a very well received Grapevine Fires, to recent singles like Black Sun and Ghosts of Beverly Drive to deep cuts like Photobooth and Pictures in an Exhibition. Notably absent from the set were hits Marching Bands of Manhattan and Sound Of Settling, but with a discography as vast as Death Cab’s, you simply can’t win them all.
The middle of the set hosted a slow interlude with the heartbreaking, What Sarah Said, into perhaps the largest sing along in Pittsburgh history, I Will Follow You Into The Dark. The band immediately picked up the vibe with crowd favorite, I Will Possess Your Heart. The band masterfully wove their tracks into an ebbing and flowing setlist that was undoubtedly crowd pleasing.
After ending the set with Bixby Canyon Bridge, the band came back out to do a four song encore comprised of Passenger Seat, A Movie Script Ending, Brothers On A Hotel Bed and Trasatlanticism. It seems like a band such as Death Cab for Cutie can’t go wrong. They enjoy a simultaneously large and incredibly devoted fan base. Most audience members knew most words to most songs. Accompanied with Ben Gibbard’s meticulous attention to detail in his performances, it seems like all Death Cab really has to do to deliver a great show is simply show up.