Posted By Guest Nicole Baptista
The Postal Service’s “Give Up” shifted the emo-indie world of 2003 to a happier place. Its words resonated with the aching hearts of teenagers everywhere, but its “techy-beats” morphed ever-fashionable, emo tears into really bad, white kid dance moves. Still, the album was uplifting, much like Friday night’s 10-year reunion show at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.
Singer Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) seemed to have the most fun. Just before hitting the stage, he and producer Jimmy Tamorello (Dntel and Headset) joined their opener — transgender rapper Big Freeda and his twerkin’ trio — bent over speakers and shook their backsides to the New Orleans genre of hip hop called “bounce music.”
Gibbard selected Big Freeda to “create conversation.” And it worked. The predominantly tame crowd of 30-somethings either scoffed in disapproval or joined the fun, danced and laughed as half-naked woman climbed the stage’s pillars – 30 feet in the air – and ”bounced” from above.
The sold-out crowd went wild once the American electronic musical supergroup hit the stage, first playing fan-favorite, “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.”
Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) strutted in a revealing, black sequins dress, as new addition Laura Burhenn propelled a melodious echo from the back of the stage.
Lewis and Gibbard playfully pranced, locking eyes and notes, innocently playing the parts of former lovers. But the vibe never grew serious; it was just three friends, happy to finally jam one more time.
“This is far better than playing the Bottom of the Hill in 2003,” Gibbard said, laughing.
Oddly, my favorite of the night was “Natural Anthem” (re-mastered in the band’s 2013 re-release). It was the only song that revived a youthful bitter angst, and it showered the audience with beams of florescent light.
I became familiar with the new track, “A Tattered Line of String,” when it premiered on The Colbert Report June 20 – the band’s first-ever televised performance.
The band explained its electronic sound wasn’t easily engineered back in the heyday of dial-up Internet, and the lengthy process gave way to their name.
Tamborello wrote and performed instrumental tracks and sent digital audio tapes to Gibbard by mail through the U.S. Postal Service. Gibbard edited the songs and added vocals, and Lewis, who lived in the same apartment complex as Tamborello, later laid down her vocals for “Give Up” in a single day.
Because they only produced one album, it was the first concert I’ve attended that promised to play all my favorites. With only two new songs – “A Tattered Line of String” and “Turn Around” — every ticket buyer was guaranteed a feisty flashback.
Gibbard threw both arms into the arm, clapped with Lewis and danced between lyrical intervals: “I kissed you in a style Clarke Gable would have admired. I thought it classic.”
She has a powerful set of pipes – I’m a huge fan of all things Jenny Lewis – but she projected a delicate tone Friday, gently clapping and hitting an electronic drum, well, like a girl.
Everyone screeched for “Such Great Heights,” but I thought the closer, “Brand New Colony,” allowed for the intense finish we were all hoping for.
As the song simmered, Gibbard bellowed “Everything will change.”
The crowd joined along; the intimate coliseum echoed the sounds of 8,500 thousand fans repeating the lyrics in unison.
The sea of sound was tremendous, and it got me thinking. I looked at the stage and remembered how many bands I’d experienced from that exact position.
My tethered Converse mimicked those I wore as a 15-year-old kid. My love for music has never faded — it has only grown stronger — but as I listened to the tracks that I fell in love with as a young girl, I realized that I now loved them in an entirely new way.
Gibbard was right.
Nostalgic memories resurfaced, years have passed and everything has changed.
The District Sleeps Alone tonight
We Will Become Silhouettes
Be Still My Heart
This Place is a Prison
There’s Never Enough Time
A Tattered Line of String
This is the Dream of Evan and Chan (cover)
Brand New Colony