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With a Little Help from His Friends, Ben Gibbard Brings Down the House

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard was treated to a hometown hero’s reception at Seattle’s Showbox last night (May 20) on the final stop of his month-long tour. Sunday’s sold-out show — sponsored by Real Change, a community newspaper which raises awareness about Seattle’s poor and homeless — drew a rapt all-ages crowd that was almost dogmatically familiar with Gibbard’s body of work, earnestly singing along with tunes from earlier Death Cab albums to rare solo gems to Postal Service favorites.

Dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved plaid shirt, Gibbard appeared as relaxed onstage as if he were just hanging out at home; the stage set up even recalled a sparse living room with a piano to one side and a diminutive armoire equipped with a small green lamp to the other.

Gibbard plowed through more than 20 songs, giving the audience a taste of the popular (“Crooked Teeth,” “We Become Silhouettes,” and a maudlin piano version of “Soul Meets Body”) alongside the more rare Gibbard originals (“You Remind Me of Home,” off an EP titled Home) and some quirky covers (Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” Squeeze’s “Up the Junction” and Nirvana’s “All Apologies”). As he closed the set with “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” a disco ball overhead illuminated the room while fans proudly belted out the lyrics, lending a campfire sing-along feel to the night.

But it was the encore that put the audience into a frenzy as Rilo Kiley songstress Jenny Lewis joined Gibbard onstage, lending her vocals for the Postal Service’s “Nothing Better.” The night closed out with the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” Gibbard’s biggest hit to date. Enlisting the aid of Lewis along with opening acts David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) and Johnathan Rice, Gibbard proved that a little help from your friends always makes for an impacting, honest impression. TIFFANY WAN / PHOTOS BY JULIA SALAMONIK

We asked: Tonight’s show is a partial benefit for Real Change, the homeless advocacy newspaper in Seattle. If you were to raise money or awareness about a special cause, what would you do?