LIVE: Death Cab for Cutie’s Triumphant Return to Los Angeles

Ben Gibbard and co. make their first major appearance in LA since moving back to Seattle in 2012.

Death Cab For Cutie/tUnE-yArDs/Mikal Cronin
July 12, 2015
Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, California

Death Cab for Cutie have always traded on their ability to make their fans cry; for almost 20 years, their poignant poetry has spoken to aching souls around the world, and diehard fans of theirs treasure the band with a sense of guarded possessiveness. As the purveyors of indie rock’s finest catharsis-inducing songs about heartache and loneliness, it comes as no surprise that their rapt audience at the Hollywood Bowl this past Sunday was more than happy to stand up and shed a few sentimental tears for the triumphant Washingtonians.

Taking the stage after a brief but bright set from a sheepishly proud Mikal Cronin and tUnE-yArDs’ signature warbled loops, the band tore through their hits, their set list ranging from cuts from this year’s Kintsugi to 1997’s You Can Play These Songs With Chords. As tenderly as the band is regarded by its fans, there was no hesitation to break through the precious veneer. “This is a rock show, you’re more than welcome to stand up!” Gibbard commanded, and the normally docile and wine-drinking Bowl attendees happily obliged, as though they’d been waiting for his permission all along. Hits like “I Will Possess Your Heart” and “Cath…” rippled and boomed with a force that was in part thanks to the quality acoustics of the Bowl, a venue that was as favorable to acoustic sing-a-longs like “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” as it was to the gradual climax of “Transatlanticism,” a suitably grand finale for the night.

Gibbard’s voice has always been somewhat of a healing salve, a security blanket to wrap around you in moments of uncertainty. After his public divorce, the exit of bandmate Chris Walla, and a difficult transition to LA from Seattle (and back again), no one needs that soothing comfort more than Gibbard himself; on Sunday night, the singer and his audience were more than happy to bask in the mutual exchange of music’s restorative powers.


Set List

[Set 1]
“No Room in Frame”
“Crooked Teeth”
“Black Sun”
“The New Year”
“The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”
“Title and Registration”
“Little Wanderer”
“No Sunlight”
“President of What?”
“You’ve Haunted Me All My Life”
“What Sarah Said”
“I Will Follow You into the Dark”
“El Dorado”
“You Are a Tourist”
“Doors Unlocked and Open”
“Soul Meets Body”
“I Will Possess Your Heart”

“Passenger Seat”
“Marching Bands of Manhattan”


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