By: Kyle Cavaness As a band, The Postal Service is a terrible model for success. First, you have to build your fanbase in other groups. Next, you're only allowed to make one album. Finally, you're not allowed to play any shows for about ten years.
Fortunately that one album, 2003's Give Up, found its way into a Post Office commercial, the movie Garden State, and the hearts and minds of anyone with a soft spot for songs built from video-game sounds and gauzy, Instagram-filtered nostalgia.
Give Up turned ten years old in February, spawning an expanded re-issue and a world tour. The band - also expanded, as a four-piece featuring the core duo of Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard and electro artist Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel), with support from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and the Mynabirds' Laura Burhenn - finished a two-night stand at the Greek Theater on Wednesday.
The band played all 10 songs on the album, along with several B-sides and two new tracks - "Turn Around," which would have been right at home on Give Up, and "A Tattered Line of String," which flirted with disco despite the emo title. The glitchy, halting electro of the album translated surprisingly well in the open-air expanse of the Greek - the songs were tight, the set flowed like water, and the whole show was delivered right on time (sorry, had to).
Without his Death Cab comrades, Gibbard prowled the whole stage, working out his signature Muppet-Elvis dance moves and often leaving his guitar behind to sing directly to the crowd, like Chris Martin without the pretentiousness. Not content to leave the beats to Tamborello, Gibbard slid onto to a drum kit for five songs of the 16-song set, reinforcing the stereotype that most singers secretly want to be drummers. (Actually, when I saw DCFC at the Wiltern some years ago, Gibbard hopped on drums mid-song at one point, which was cool at the time but didn't leave much for the drummer to do.)
Along with drums and guitar, Gibbard added electric piano, and the rest of the group filled in with a wide range of instruments: Burhenn played keyboards, sang harmonies and rocked out on a xylophone; Tamborello played a melodica and an occasional robot-voice vocal solo; Lewis rotated between guitar, piano, drum pad and looping vocal effects, when she wasn't sharing vocals or two-stepping with Gibbard.
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Despite nearing the end of a world tour that included a featured slot at Coachella, the members of the Postal Service still seemed surprised that what was originally a one-off side project has endured for more than a decade. "This goes out to you, for caring about this record so many years later," Gibbard told the crowd near the end of the night. We do still care, Ben - and we're hoping the Postal Service delivers more shows before Give Up turns twenty.
Set list below
Set List: The District Sleeps Alone Tonight We Will Become Silhouettes Sleeping In Turn Around Nothing Better Recycled Air Be Still My Heart Clark Gable Our Secret (Beat Happening cover)JLdrm This Place Is A Prison There is Never Too Much Time A Tattered Line Of String (almost disco) Such Great Heights National Anthem
Encore: The Ballad Of Evan And Chan Brand New Colony