The Postal Service really know how to call it a career.
After disappearing for years following the wildly-successful 2003 album Give Up, the Ben Gibbard/Jimmy Tamborello project decided to take a victory lap in 2013 before ending what was a magical pairing for good.
Gibbard – frontman of Death Cab for Cutie – had previously tweeted that the Postal Service’s Lollapalooza performance and the ensuing after-party show would be their last. So obviously, a mass of diehards and casual fans alike ran to the Bud Light Stage in Chicago’s Grant Park to see the Postal Service’s headlining set on Saturday night.
Under the hulking Windy City skyline, Gibbard and Tamborello took the audience back to that landmark album, in addition to sprinkling in a few Easter eggs, with the help of Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds.
They ran out of the gates early, opening with sweeping versions of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “We Will Become Silhouettes,” and a thoughtful take on “Sleeping In” featuring Lewis on an acoustic guitar.
Watching these songs played live was part of the magic. While Tamborello stayed behind a podium that was outfitted with keys, laptops and other electronic goodies, Gibbard and Lewis each played guitar and even got behind a drum kit on separate occasions, giving the programmed beats a more organic feel.
And it was truly evident that Gibbard was having fun. When he wasn’t belting his deeply emotional lyrics into a microphone, he was sliding in step with Lewis, or even dancing by himself as if he were on a wedding dance floor. Isn’t that the most joyful kind of dancing after all?
Lewis and Gibbard traded lines on the heartbreaking song “Nothing Better,” just as they had done 10 years ago.
Gibbard admitted that “Nothing Better” was for “anyone who has had their heart taken out of their chest and thrown on the ground and stomped on.”
They also harmonized on a club-ready version of “Clark Gable.”
Other highlights included the Postal Service’s cover of “Our Secret,” which is from 1980s punk trio Beat Happening, and of course, the eternally uplifting “Such Great Heights.”
Once the opening blips and bloops of “Such Great Heights” rained out of the speakers, it was like a call to pull out the cameras and jump on someone’s shoulders.
This marked one of the few times Gibbard dropped his guitar and ran to the drums, where he accentuated the final few notes before abruptly ending the track.
The band took a quick break before returning for a two-song encore, the last of which was a busy extended version of “Brand New Colony.”
If Gibbard is truly not bluffing, then the Postal Service will be over and done with officially Sunday night after their show at the Metro in Chicago.
So for the tens of thousands who saw them at Lollapalooza, it will forever remain a memory.