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A Night with Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar

October 25, 2009

Friday night, I went to a concert up in L.A. at the El Rey Theatre to see Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar.  They are on a short tour to promote their new concept album based on the writings of Jack Kerouac and a part of the soundtrack for an upcoming movie based on Kerouac’s “Big Sur.”  The show was quickly sold out and I found that the audience was a mix of Kerouac, Death Cab for Cutie, and Solt Volt fans all hoping for a good show from this odd pairing.

The doors opened at 8 PM, so I assumed leaving at 6 PM would give me plenty of time to get up to L.A. and eat and relax.  Of course, the traffic gods never play nice.  I arrived in downtown L.A. at 8 PM and I was scrambling to find something to eat.  I had previously eaten only two slices of pizza and some bud light and clamato juice.  I was hungry.  I hit up Kyochon Chicken for some amazing chicken wings and drove towards the El Rey with wing sauce all over my beard.

Man, it was hipster central in the theater.  Flannel Shirts?  Check.  Beards and tattoos?  Check.  Skinny jeans?  Check.  The first act was the lead singer of the Long Winters.  He was alright, but I couldn’t get over the fact that he had a gigantic gap tooth.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it and ruined it for me.  Midway through his show, these two older couples rushed right in front of me.  I’ve written about douchebag old people before, but these guys reiterated my hatred for hipster old people.  As soon as they stepped in front of me they began making out blocking my entire view of the stage.  Through the next two hours they would constantly make out and then try to dance to the music.  They, however, didn’t get the message about proper etiquette at indie shows.  Here it is:  You stand with your arms crossed and nod your head.  MAYBE, you clap after a song.  At most, you start tapping your feet.  That’s IT!  These two were gyrating their hips and grinding to folk music.  It was bizarre and sad all at the same time.

I knew none of their songs except one I heard on NPR.  I’m pretty sure they finished their whole album and threw in some covers and original work.  I was extremely happy when they played Styrofoam – “Coaches in Alley”, a very underrated song that was a precursor to the Postal Service.  The original was a mix of dance music combined with Ben Gibbard.  A la Postal Service.

They closed the set with a Dylan cover and actually apologized that they couldn’t play more, but they probably haven’t practiced a whole lot.  I thought overall it was a good change of pace for them and showed a bit of a country folk side to the artists.

BTW, Ben Gibbard got skinny as hell after going all hollywood.

BTW, Ben Gibbard got skinny as hell after going all hollywood.

Deschanel Sisters

And no, I didn't see Zooey, but I bet she was back stage with her sister Bones.


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