I have no photos; the Fillmore staff turned me away my camera getting into the show, even though they’ve let me bring it in before.
[Rant: The Fillmore Management and Livenation, you are hurting yourself by not allowing me to bring in my camera equipment. See, when you do let me bring it in, my equipment, photographic knowledge, and eye, and your lighting get together to produce some pretty decent photos I tend to think, making your club look pretty good. Now if you don’t let me in with my camera equipment, you’re just enforcing a bad image of your club. That’s because people still come in with their small point-and-shoots and camera phones. I estimate about 30 of these were used within a 10 foot radius around me. That’s not to say that you can’t get good photos with point-and-shoots, but, by and large, they don’t. I saw people taking photos from 30 ft away with flash (surprise! you got a good bleached photo of the guy-in-front-of-you’s shoulder!), up close with a flash (surprise! Gibbard looks like a ghost!) or without a flash (surprise! it’s blurry!! you need to set you camera on a pretty high ISO and probably have a lens with a widest aperture of f/2.8 at least to get a no-flash photo in those lighting conditions). And then there are camera phones, the photos on are not only blurry but low quality. So, you see, the Fillmore Management, you are enforcing a low quality image of your club. This is what will be published on the web and shown to friends. The associated and perceived quality of your club diminishes with each of these photos.]
Forgive me for that. Okay, now back to the show at hand.
I arrived just before David Bazan (myspace), who just signed to Barsuk went on. Now I’ve seen DB a few times in Pedro the Lion, the Headphones, and solo—embarrassingly, I think it now numbers thirteen. That’s unlucky. I’d better see him June 21 at the Bottom of the Hill.
This was the first time I saw David Bazan that he seemed bigger than life. Normally, he’s so nervous and quirky that you sort of see him as a normal guy. He also normally does his anyone-have-any-questions thing between songs, which he didn’t do here (it probably would have been a disaster in a venue of the Fillmore’s size). He didn’t talk much, but when he did was funny and not all that awkward. Maybe it’s the Gibbard influence.
He started his set with “Cold Beer and Cigarettes”, a great song off of his solo EP. Early in his set he also did an amazing version of June 18, 1976, a song about a new mother of an illegitimate baby jumping off the roof of the hospital. I wondered how he could sing songs like that night after night without having them affect him. His set was heavy on songs from the EP (Cold Beer, Fewer Moving Pieces and Selling Advertising(?)) and Achilles Heel (I Do, Bands with Managers, Forgone Conclusion, Transcontinental(?)). He threw in a couple older songs like “Big Trucks”. He did three (or four, depending on how you count) covers: Man In Me (Dylan), Let Down (Radio Head), and Hallelujah (Cohen) (and Shit Talker (Headphones) if you want to count that). “Hallelujah” was the closer of the set and it was done in classic Bazan-style. I feel like it almost worked; it was good but versions of that song can be transcendent.
All-in-all a good set from Bazan. What all the ladies wanted was up next: Ben Gibbard. The crowd went absolutely nuts when he came out. He’s a total showman these days, knowing when to pause for effect and how to get a crowd going. Interestingly, the Postal Service songs got the best reaction. I guess Give Up has sold like 600,000 copies by this point, easily more than any single Death Cab album, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.
He did a mix of old and new songs, including lots of Postal Service songs (“Recycled Air”, “Brand New Colony”, “We Will Become Silhouettes”(?), see also below), Death Cab songs (“Photobooth”, “Why You’d Want to Live Here”, “405”, “Lack of Color”, “Soul Meets Body”, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”, “Title and Registration”), one from the split EP with Andrew Kenny (“You Remind Me of Home”) and a few covers (none, it seems, of which, I can remember, except that one was originally a Creeper Lagoon song).
The encore ended with two Postal Service songs. Gibbard started “Nothing Better” and in time for where her vocals were on the album, Jenny Lewis strolled onto the stage. The crowd went nuts, of course. She delivered her lines with some major style. They both seemed genuinely enthused to be on stage at that moment. (And, let’s be honest, a lot more polished than the last time I saw them together on stage in April 2003 when the Postal Service toured through Boston). The show, of course, closed with “Such Great Heights” with Gibbard on lead and Jenny Lewis, John Vanderslice and Bazan singing backups. (This, I imagine and I gathered from the number of camera phones and cameras out, lead to many of what my friend would call “hipstorgasms”). It was a nice version of an overplayed tune, I have to admit.
It was a good show, to be sure, but the major problem of the show was the crowd for both acts I saw: idle chatter during Bazan’s set and general misplaced enthusiasm during Gibbard’s set, like singing along to large portions of many of the songs, “woo!”ing or cheering randomly in the middle of songs whenever there was a break in vocals, shouting at Gibbard. At one point, there was this girl clapping, hands over her head, along to—well, more like clapping at— a song, completely out of rhythm, very loudly. It was so distracting that Gibbard visibly rolled his eyes and sighed. Later he said “What is this? Some sort of rhythmic exercise? That was really fucking me up.” Yeah, me too, Ben. Me too.
I’ll see Bazan again, but I think I might have had my fill of Gibbard(‘s crowds). I guess I am getting old and jaded, but, for instance, Ben does “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” a song that even the master producer Chris Walla decided to add nothing to, that sonically is about space, and the crowd decides needs an extra 1000 vocalists. I’m not sure if I agree with your artistic direction, Crowd.
Bonus Trivia: Gibbard says he spent his 21st birthday at the Fillmore, seeing a “shitty” band, but wouldn’t say who it was. I did some sleuthing but couldn’t find the answer. The best I got was the day after his 21st birthday, Collective Soul played the Fillmore.
 [Also, I noted that there was an American Analog Set as warm up music right before Gibbard went on, “Born on a Cusp” I think.]
Update: Lots of the show has appeared on youtube: Bazan’s Hallelujah, Nothing Better (with Jenny Lewis), Such Great Heights (with Lewis, Vandersice and Bazan), Harvest Moon (Neil Young cover), All Apologies (Nirvana cover), We Looked Like Giants, I Will Follow You Into the Dark, and Title and Registration.