Back in 2003, Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard released an album full of dreamy, 8-bit synths, quick-tempo drum loops, and a 1980’s-like style of electro-indie rock that would create a trend in the music world for the next ten years (and counting). After grabbing Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley, three hit singles were produced from that album, and a dedicated following to boot. Then they just sort of stopped. After repeatedly shooting down rumors of a second album, the band finally announced it would be going on a 10-year anniversary tour for their debut (and only) album, Give Up. Luckily, one of Chicago’s biggest annual events swallowed up the opportunity, and booked The Postal Service for their last two shows. Ever. Pretty cool huh?
I will openly admit that this headlining performance was the reason that I dished out $200+ to hang out with 300,000 reckless crowd members in the sweltering heat for three days. Most of the time, when you build something like this up in your mind for as many months as I did, you will be disappointed. I can tell you point blank that this was not the case. As soon as the band’s headlining performance began, around the same time as festival behemoth Mumford and Sons took the stage across Grant Park, it marked the beginning of a pinnacle moment in my music-loving career. The 90-minute show allowed for an entire career-spanning setlist, going all the way from their hit “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” to the song that, as Gibbard said, “Started it all”, Dntel’s “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”. The group even got to the new releases from this year’s re-release, along with a cover of Beat Happening’s “Our Secret”. The set seemed flawless from front to back, and the crowd seemed to be made up of exclusively die-hard fans of the band, singing along to every word.
The reason this show seemed to be so impactful was the way the final moments of the concert passed. Earlier in the show, frontman Ben Gibbard had pointed out the fact that the Lollapalooza performance was their second to last, with only a show at the local Metro Chicago the following night. It was surreal as an audience member, watching a band performing on stage as something they agreed to shut the door on for good in less than two days. What solidified all of it was seeing that the four people on stage, for a moment, also took it as surreal. As the final song ended and the band set up to take a bow, they stretched out the set closer “Brand New Colony” for what seemed like an extra song-length, repeating the final line over and over again: “Everything will change”. Then, almost hesitantly, they walked off stage for one of the last times. Less than 36 hours later, in the same city, it was all over.
The Postal Service is a band that I have the utmost respect for; one that was able to bridge a gap between musical styles and create something that has been admired and emulated for years. The fact that they did it all on one album that was made with the two core members barely stepping in the same room as each other makes it worth so much more. This is a show that I will remember for a very long time, if not forever. Here’s to wishing for a new album, and being thankful that we at least got a few new songs this year.
Here’s the setlist for The Postal Service’s Lollapalooza show, 8/3/13:
- 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)
- This Place Is a Prison
- There’s Never Enough Time
- A Tattered Line of String
- Such Great Heights
- Natural Anthem
- (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan (Dntel Cover)
- Brand New Colony