Concert Reviews

The Postal Service at Verizon Theatre: "This is Love in the Modern Age, Folks"

The Postal Service Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie June 3, 2013

There are a lot of plaid shirts, some seersucker shorts, some totally appropriate Arrested Development tees. There are waxed mustaches and boat shoes and tattoos and highlights.

Trying to find some common markers in the crowd doesn't work. All they have in common is their age. Except for the odd middle-aged couple, everyone here would have graduated high school around roughly 10 years ago. If you ignore the fact that almost no one here knows each other, this could be a giant high school reunion.

It's been 10 years since Give Up came out. It's the only album The Postal Service ever made. And it became a soundtrack to the make-outs and breakups of pretty much everyone in high school or college in 2003. It was melancholy and bouncy at the same time. If you never heard it, you at least accidentally read the lyrics on a friend's Facebook or defunct instant messenger.

Now The Postal Service, a band made entirely of musicians who already had their own separate projects, is back together and touring, milking millennial nostalgia for all it's worth.

After opening act Ra Ra Riot (who are just so much fun) leaves and the various synth stations set up, all the lights go off and the dark is filled with glowing camera phone screens and the smell of nachos. Being inside the Verizon Theater is like being in a mega-church. There's carpeted stadium seating, giant screens flanking the stage. The foursome walks out -- Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, James Tamborello and newbie Laura Burhenn, who joined for the tour.

"This is love in the modern age, folks," says Gibbard, clearly wanting to be quoted. "It's a goddamn bitch."

That was the appeal of Postal Service. Songs about breaking up that sound like the score to a video game, metaphors about romance that are weird and interesting ("I'll be the platform shoes"), and references to Clark Gable for an audience that broadly speaking couldn't pick him out of a lineup.

Aside from adding a few dancier riffs, Postal Service has updated very little in their songs, which is for the best. The crowd has been listening to the same ones for a decade, and there are some gasps when Gibbard announces the next song is new.

"New? What?" yells a woman behind me.

I admit I felt weird going by myself to see The Postal Service. Sitting alone listening to songs about relationships starting and their eventual post-mortem is something that should be private. But "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" and "Such Great Heights" are like old friends, and with a crowd around me screaming wildly I still found it surreal that I was watching Postal Service live. And I couldn't help but sit and grin like an idiot the entire time.

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Luke Darby
Contact: Luke Darby