Coachella Week: The Postal Service puts its stamp on the Cosmo

The Postal Service’s Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello (right) perform inside the Cheslea Ballroom Friday night.
Photo: Al Powers

The Details

The Postal Service
three stars
April 19, Chelsea Ballroom
Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

The indie kids are all grown up. At least, it felt that way Friday at the Cosmo, when a crowd in its late 20s packed the Chelsea Ballroom to celebrate sounds from its youth. Many were high schoolers when The Postal Service released lone album Give Up in 2003, and the electro-pop project hadn’t been heard from since—until this year’s 10th-anniversary tour. Las Vegas marked stop No. 6, and leader Ben Gibbard called it “the best show we’ve played since we’ve gotten back. You guys made it so,” he said, then added, “We should do a residency here.”

Gibbard (frontman for Death Cab for Cutie) was joined onstage by Postal Service partner Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel), along with Rilo Kiley singer (and Las Vegas native) Jenny Lewis, who provided secondary vocals on Give Up, and guest musician Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds. The quartet faithfully re-created the familiar material’s blippy electro bounce while touching it up with enough new nuances to keep the night from turning into a record-listening party. Still, successful as the show felt as nostalgia, it lacked spark as performance. The musicians played backed by dazzling lights and rainbow-colored screens, and occasionally they switched instruments (hey neat, Jenny on drums!), but there was no real sense of theater and most of the 16 numbers struck a similar computerized note.

Two notable exceptions: a fortified take on lo-fi Beat Happening tune “Our Secret” and a noisy version of Give Up's closing cut “Natural Anthem,” which held down the same position at the end of the main set. Two new tunes, “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line of String,” from this month’s deluxe Give Up reissue, were reliably catchy but largely indistinct; they, along with B-sides “Be Still My Heart” and “There’s Never Enough Time” essentially padded the path between beloved Postal Service “oldies” like “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” “We Will Become Silhouettes,” “Sleeping In,” “Nothing Better” and “Such Great Heights.” That last tune, known best by the general public for its use in a UPS commercial, means so much more to a particular generation, which surely flashed back Friday while bobbing and singing along. Why should Rolling Stones fans have all the fun reminiscing?

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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