We Will Become Silhouettes

The Postal Service reunited, if only for a moment

The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard, Cedar Park Center, 6.2.13
The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard, Cedar Park Center, 6.2.13 (by Abby Johnston)

Cedar Park Center’s crowd broke into cheers as the first bass notes droned through the P.A. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” proved unmistakable. The Postal Service opened its 80 minutes with the same song that kicks off its only LP, 2003’s Give Up, transforming the highly acclaimed trio into a time machine.

Ten years ago, Sub Pop Records’ electronic gem quickly reached legend, but its creators retreated back to various projects just a few months after their thriving inception. Sunday night, co-conspirators Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie darling Ben Gibbard reunited with Jenny Lewis, with tour support from the Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn. With only one LP to draw from, the set list held few surprises. The band tapped each of Give Up’s 10 cuts, peppering in two covers with an underwhelming new single.

Though Gibbard’s soft crooning worked its charms on the album, his awkward, drunk-uncle dancing played second fiddle to charismatic hostess Jenny Lewis. The Rilo Kiley singer provided color to the live lens, emerging as a key player rather than a token female counter. Her voice rang clear as a bell, harmonizing alongside Gibbard’s vocals rather than beneath it (“Nothing Better”). Bouncing and bubbly, she livened up her sedate bandmates.

The crowd roared as “Such Great Heights” sped towards its original tempo. As with most of the evening’s live interpretations, the song carried no extra frills or fuss – which is how things should be. Most of the near-capacity CPC experienced what Gibbard calls his “imaginary band” for the first, and quite possibly last time. They wanted the Postal Service to stick with what’s known. Save for a few flourishes of a vocoder and a brief guitar rip from Lewis, that’s what they got.

“Natural Anthem” brought the show to its first close with a barrage of teeth-chattering bass and churning synth punctuated by a few frenetic strobes. A two-song encore followed, featuring a piece from Tamborello’s Dntel,” (This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan,” but the final piece of the puzzle fell into place with participatory closer “Brand New Colony.”

The staccato melody lifted into soaring highs as an excited attendee managed to work his way onstage. Lewis giggled as he was quickly ushered away. Gibbard directed the crowd into an a cappella repeat of the chorus, counting down and pointing as hundreds of voices melded together. Everyone in the building knew each and every word.

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