The Postal Service Free Press Summer Fest June 1, 2013
Back in 2003, a magical group of musicians came together to create a standalone project. Their little experiment became Give Up, one of the most beloved indie records ever. They never toured this record, but its fanbase continued to grow.
Ever since, the public has been waiting for Ben Gibbard, Jimmy Tamborello, and Jenny Lewis to perform their little "side project," and finally, ten years later, The Postal Service has brought Give Up to the live stage. As the audience at Saturday night's FPSF can attest, the show was well worth the wait.
The Postal Service showed Houston that their music sounds as thriving and current as it did a decade ago, and fans were enraptured with the performance from the very beginning. The soft and sweet collage of vocals, xylophone, and effects colliding with harder-hitting drums and Moog-y production elicited a demanding emotional reaction from the crowd. From the moment they opened their set with "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," everyone was chanting along with every word.
So who are The Postal Service?
You know the members of this band because you've met them before. Not through Death Cab for Cutie, Dntel, or Rilo Kiley, or even Troop Beverly Hills. You know them because you grew up with them. They went to your high school. They were the coolest and smartest people you knew. They were approachable and sexy and nerdy all at once. They were good at art and music and they were clever. They were just better at stuff than everyone else. And they still are.
Gibbard is like the Where's Waldo of musicians. If you looked away for even a moment and looked back up, he was in a completely different place on the stage, playing a different instrument than the moment before. If you blinked again, he was on the drums. Again, he had a guitar.
Lewis is an equal talent. She played drums and guitar and sang. Watching her, it's evident that she's a natural actress, although nothing about her performance was remotely contrived, just completely heartfelt and believable.
Lewis and Gibbard played off each other as if they'd been touring with this music for years (despite their first show as the band being just this past April). When they played "Nothing Better," it was performed almost like a small vignette. The lyrics to the song tell of a broken heart. Everyone in the crowd could relate and were invested. Plus, it just sounded so damn good.
When "Such Great Heights" was played, Gibbard told the crowd "After ten years, you guys still care enough. This one is for you." And the crowd really did care. They went nuts. As the song played, an airplane flew overhead and I imagined being on the plane, looking down at the show. Everything really is perfect from far away.
But in a perfect world, this band would play all the time, and not just for one summer tour. Maybe performances like Saturday's FPSF show will kickstart the desire of this amazing trio to create more music again? We should all be so lucky. Here's to not waiting another ten years.
Personal Bias: It's impossible for me to separate this music from my own emotional experience with it. The execution of the work did not disappoint me.
The Crowd: Ranged from the youngest at the festival to the oldest. Reissuing their work (and opting to sell it at Starbucks) has the base growing; original fans have been waiting for this for a decade. The crowd took up every inch of the Saturn stage.
Overheard In the Crowd: "This is just a GREAT, GREAT, GREAT set." The girl behind me was correct.
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Random Notebook Dump: Between Jenny Lewis and the hot xylophone player, I have never wanted to be a redhead so badly. And I pretty much wish I were a redhead every day.