REVIEW: Ben Gibbard – September 10th – The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, CO

The Scene: This performance / interview was part of a new series produced by MGD and The Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame called “The Craft.” Tickets weren’t available to purchase and had to be won through KBCO.com or over the air. The crowd was relatively small (200+) and seemed to be largely industry types and hipsters “in the know.”

MGD did a good job of decking out The Fillmore with large video projection screens and lights and it really looked pretty good. The room was split in two with a large velvet curtain hanging from the ceiling just behind the soundboard and the front of the room was set up cabaret style with small tables and clusters of chairs. Overall a nice set up for an intimate evening at such a large hall.

MGD was also nice enough to give everyone 3 drinks over the course of the evening. Of course the choices were limited to MGD or MGD Light, but hey, who am I to complain about free beer.

Ben Gibbard: Gibbard was introduced by the host (Warren Zanes) at about 9:20 or so and came out to a standing ovation and launched right into the Postal Service tune “Brand New Colony.” This set the tone unrealistically high for the evening. As soon as Gibbard played the last notes of the song he left the lone mic on the right side of the stage and took a seat center stage next to Zanes and the interview portion of the evening commenced.

I understand where Zanes was trying to go with his questions throughout the evening. He was trying to get inside Gibbard’s mind and get him to reveal some of the “secrets” of his craft, however, he wasn’t going about it in the right way. Many of Zanes questions focused on his own interpretations of the songs and were very leading. This style led Gibbard to almost take a defensive step back and say “no, that isn’t what I was thinking there. It was more like . . . ” It would have been much more effective had Zanes posed some open ended questions and allowed Gibbard to speak about the music in his own words. At one point Gibbard literally looked at the audience in shock after Zanes finished posing a long, rambling, in depth question that none of us had followed at all.

I do commend Zanes for getting up there and giving it his all, however, I found the bulk of the conversation to be relatively boring. I recognize that interviewing someone in a live setting isn’t an easy thing to do but we are talking Miller Brewing Company and The Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame here. I am sure they could have found someone trained in journalism and interviewing to host the series.

Gibbard did play a couple of more songs throughout 80 or so minute event. It was a treat to hear stripped down versions of Death Cab and Postal Services songs as he performed solo on just an acoustic guitar in a coffe house like setting, but I could have gone for much more music and much less conversation. In addition to the opener of “Brand New Colony,” he also performed “You Remind Me Of Home,” “Title and Registration,” “Photobooth,” and possibly another tune or two but I don’t know as I headed home a little early.

NOTE: The usual ratings don’t really apply to this event so I’ve altered them a bit.

Music Portion: B+
Sound: B-
Interview Questions: C-
Interview Responses: B
Set: A-

Overall: C+

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!