You can’t really review a Postal Service concert properly without going back in time.
The year? 2003. Doc, Fire up the Delorean!
You know, I always thought the Christopher Lloyd who played Doc Brown in those movies was the same guy behind Modern Family and Frasier. I was wrong.
2003 was a special time. I had barely graduated university and already had a job developing software for a golf company, but something bigger beckoned. I wanted to see concerts. I wanted to live in a real city. It was a fairly easy decision. I packed my bags and headed to Toronto. What a great time to move! In 2003, the music world was pulling itself out of the gutter, having survived the nu-metal phase of the late 90’s. The early 2000’s was a golden age for music and 2003 was no exception. Take a look at these releases:
YEAH YEAH YEAH’s. Who didn’t dance to Date with the Night at Dance Cave that year? Speaking of dancing, what about the cowbells!
It was an interesting time. Genres were mixing. Electronic music was fusing with rock. Every new band with an exciting album at that time seemed to be on their way to greatness. Rock was back. Even classic rock was back. Who doesn’t remember this song
Of course, with all the world focus on rock’s resurgence, there needed to be something that countered all that machismo. Something that countered all that leather and grease.
Boom goes the dynamite.
The Postal Service’s Give Up was released in early 2003, and it might have been under the radar at first but as the year progressed, the album picked up steam and by the end of the year, it was utterly unavoidable. It was a giant. A collaboration between DNTEL and Ben Gibbard, The Postal Service’s record Give Up struck a chord with people on a personal level. Maybe it was because of the emo-esque lyrics, but you can say that’s been done before. Perhaps it was one of the first times that people could feel all emo, and then at the same time, dance to the music. I am not quite sure, but something about the minimal electronic arrangement paired with Gibbard’s voice that really connected. With all that popularity, we all expected a tour of course.
Only it never happened*.
In one of the least surprising news (in my mind anyway.. I predicted it) of 2013, The Postal Service announced they were reuniting in this year. Everyone I knew went into a frenzy. A bunch of dates were announced, including a show in Toronto.
That was yesterday.
So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the ACC only to find it practically empty. For all the hoopla that I had envisioned when the Postal Service reunited, I had always thought they would be able to pack the ACC. I was completely wrong. The 300’s were empty (my friend who had a ticket to the 300 section got moved down) and even the GA area looked half full. Maybe all their popularity was just imagined. Maybe it’s been too long. Maybe most Postal Service fans hate the ACC. I don’t know. Even Ben Gibbard, as he took to the stage, commented on it (he said something like “this is a large room!”). Despite the mismatch of venues, the group, featuring Jenny Lewis and Laura Burhenn marched forth.
I was always curious as to how the Postal Service would sound live. This was a band seemingly built off music from a laptop, how much more could they have offered? The live setup featured Gibbard and Lewis on guitars, with Burhenn providing support. The show started off with the unmistakable notes of The District Ends Alone Tonight and ended 75 minutes later with the equally unmistakable NES notes of Brand New Colony. It was almost exactly as I expected, the band rarely deviated from the source material, making it did sound like the album played really loud, but then once in awhile, Ben or Jenny Lewis would take the drums and bang it a few times and then you’d be like, oh nice! a variation. Probably aware that the live music of the Postal Service is not tailored for arenas, the group added a how power lighting system to add to the whole experience, only it was a bit weird because the lights only help illuminate how empty the whole place was. Despite all that, the glory of Such Great Heights finally elevated the crowd from a sitting experience to a standing one. One of the soundtracks of the past decade, the track live was good as you always had imagined in your head and finally got everyone dancing. This was probably a relief to Ben Gibbard, who up until this point, was seemingly the only one dancing. It was a little awkward, but when you think about the Postal Service, it’s creation, the fans and the oddness of the venue, a little awkward sounds about just right.
* They did some touring but most people missed out on it.