Photography + Review: The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, and Lauren Mayberry
Posted: by The Editor
Inside of my first car, I kept two CD’s – Hum’s You’d Prefer an Astronaut and Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism. The cigarette lighter stereo adapter never worked as intended, so I needed two options when it failed. Transatlanticism was an album that no change in job, school, partners, or other force of nature could take from me – 45 minutes that resonated deeply in mine and many others’ core.
Admittedly, The Postal Service has become a favorite of mine over the last decade, and wasn’t as fundamental to my youth as Transatlanticism was. When “Such Great Heights” was on the radio, everyone I was involved with was “too cool for pop and electronic music”. However, as an adult, that style of music became one of my favorites and by the time I had grown to appreciate the album, the band ceased to exist.
Luckily, that is no longer the case. Jumping forward to 2023, Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service are celebrating their two magnum opus’ by playing both records in full. Tickets for this tour sold out instantly and additional nights announced in the same city followed suit as well. For two nights, we got to celebrate 20 years of both records in Boston at MGM Music Hall connected to Fenway Park. On top of this, both nights coincided with the Red Sox playing a home game versus the Yankees – there was a lot of commotion on Lansdowne Street.
Everyone piled into MGM, lining the staircase for merch and packing into the crowd to see Lauren Mayberry (of CHVRCHES) open the night. Lauren has previously collaborated with Death Cab for Cutie in live settings by frequently coming out to play “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” together, so it felt right for her to make her solo debut on this tour. With limited solo music out currently, Lauren joked with the crowd that “no one besides her and her mom knows these songs” but assured us they will be released soon. She will also be making rounds across the country on her own headliner this fall when it officially releases!
Right as Death Cab for Cutie took the stage and let the opening chords to “The New Year” ring, fans rushed out of the merch line and into the stadium, finally giving us a sense of how big the sold out crowd really was. The benefit of Transatlanticism being played before Give Up is that we all got to stand calmly and fully take in the slower parts of the album as they bled into one another. Not that anyone should be in the pit for Death Cab for Cutie, but 5,000 of us standing shoulder to shoulder and quietly singing along to “Lightness”, “Passenger Seat”, and “A Lack of Color” brought everyone together. That’s not to say there wasn’t excitement during “The Sound of Settling”, “Expo 86”, and “We Looked Like Giants”! As the album wrapped up, Ben announced they’d be back in 15 minutes to play Give Up.
After changing attire from all black to all white, The Postal Service took the stage right at 10pm and immediately jumped into the opening synth lead of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”. A roaring cheer immersed from the crowd as the lights came up on Jenny Lewis when she began singing her backing vocals. During “Such Great Heights”, Ben Gibbard was seen smiling ear to ear and it’s clear that these songs still still bring him joy 20 years later. Before jumping into “Recycled Air”, Ben pointed out an audience member’s Taylor Swift shirt before joking that this was the “budget eras tour… the era tour, just one era”. While his main skill set is vocals and lead guitar, Ben did showcase his old talent for drumming by playing the outro to “Clark Gable”, “This Place is a Prison”, and “Brand New Colony”. Everyone got to dance along to Jimmy Tamborello’s electronic backing tracks throughout the playthrough of Give Up before we all came back into focus to hear the album’s closer “Natural Anthem”. While we did not see the bonus tracks “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line of String” played for an encore, we did hear an acoustic rendition of Such Great Heights before the remaining members of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service returned to the stage to cover “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode.
This tour is one of those “if you don’t go and see this, you never will” – at least for another ten years. Death Cab for Cutie extensively tours the world and while they regularly pull out songs from Transatlanticism, it will not be played in full. On top of that, The Postal Service only returns to the stage on decade anniversaries of Give Up and a 30 year reunion isn’t guaranteed. Both albums truly transcend the time period they were released in while simultaneously pulling you back to the simpler times of 2003 and hearing both live is a reminder that we have all made it this far and will continue to be ok.