Ten years ago Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello, also known as electronic artist Dntel, created an album that would not only become an instant hit, but that would also change the face of indie music forever.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a song that is directly influenced by the groundbreaking album Give Up. Listening to bands like Phoenix, Beach House, Owl City, and Little Dragon, I can’t imagine where music would be without this album. Combining deep emotion, beautiful melody, and stellar production, The Postal Service’s only full-length album remains one of the best, most innovative, and influential records of the last 20 years.
After collaborating on a single song on a Dntel album, Gibbard and Tamborello concluded that their musical chemistry was something special, and they were right. After sending each other arrangements, vocals, and other musical touches electronically and through the United States Postal Service, the duo created a piece of art that took over the radio almost instantly. “Such Great Heights” began getting daily radio play, and the amazing part was that it was on rock, pop, and indie radio. The band’s sound at the time was so different and revolutionary for the genre that it crossed all boundaries.
The Postal Service toured in support of the album, taking along Jenny Lewis of indie band Rilo Kiley. The tour was successful, and the band finished with the intention of eventually creating another album. They didn’t. However, the obsession with their music was ubiquitous. It appeared on commercials and in movies and dozens of artists covered their songs, including Iron & Wine and The Shins. Every year after, all the nerdy music festival message boards featured countless requests for the reuniting of a band that had left a mark on the music world.
A decade later, posts began littering the group’s dormant website. The festival chat rooms ignited, and soon it was announced that they would indeed be making an appearance at Coachella, as well as releasing a 10-year anniversary limited-edition vinyl of Give Up and embarking on a world tour. The Postal Service was making a return after years of rabid requests.
I was lucky enough to see The Postal Service play at the Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on April 19th, and the crowd stirred with excitement leading up to the band’s performance. There was almost a nervous energy in the audience before the show, and clearly this album that meant so much to so many adoring fans carried a great weight when performed to an audience that has never heard the tracks live. Thankfully, The Postal Service lived up to the album.
Throughout their stellar 90-minute set, The Postal Service ran though their entire innovative album, as well as several B-sides from singles and remixes. Based on the roar of the audience, you would think after each song that they had just played “Freebird.” From the second they took the stage, it was obvious that the evening was something special.
Looking around at the crowd during the show, not only could I see everyone singing along to every song, but I would also see grown men dancing like kids, girls crying, and couples of all ages and genders sharing intimate kisses. During the concert it became rather evident that this band’s album is more than a piece of music; it is a moment in time that people genuinely connected to. Give Up is important to people on so many different levels — even my mom knows “Such Great Heights,” and that song in particular is one that so many fans can connect with specific memories.
The Postal Service really left a mark on the music world. Who else can create one album and influence thousands of artists after them? Other artists can make an impression, but it takes something special to make adults cry at an indie show. Give Up is an important piece of music that left a legacy in its wake. Seeing The Postal Service live was an unbelievable experience, and when I listen to their album now, it means that much more.
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