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SHOW REVIEW: the Postal Service at the Fillmore, Detroit by Michael Welchans

It was April, 2003, two months after their Sub Pop release, Give Up, when Benjamin Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, electronic music artist, Dntel (Jimmy Tamborello) and keyboardist/vocalist Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kenny last played together in Detroit. It was clear that they were unable to sell out The Magic Stick.

Ten years later, with just two new tracks, the trio, adding Laura Burhenn from the Mynabirds to provide additional vocals and instruments, sold out The Fillmore, which holds three times as many fans.

This makes perfect sense. The Postal Service has since influenced countless artists who combine electronic with indie-pop, and has since sold over a million copies of its only full-length recording. (The band’s name also helped popularize a modern method of making music: by recording separately in different places and exchanging submixes of the recordings via, for example, the United States Postal Service.)

Opening with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, ” followed by “We Will Become Silhouettes,” and soon a *new* track, “Turn Around,” and then “Recycled Air,” it was clear that this was no Bj√∂rk show; the songs were being played true to form, without much discernible remixing, rearrangement or new instrumentation. For an electronic music, this is almost unheard of, but in pop music, especially when there is such a huge gap in time since anybody has seen the act live, this is consummate. Every track from Give Up was played almost exactly as it was recorded.

One exception to the rule was “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan,” from Dntel's album Life Is Full of Possibilities, the song that led to the formation of the Postal Service, which was played with a more melodic intro and which featured Benjamin Gibbard, a tantalizing new version of an the oldest track of the evening.

Always energetic and exciting to watch, Gibbard put the guitar down and played a drum set during several songs, adding more movement and variety to the song list to which everyone was all singing, all dancing. It was a true performance of poptronic perfection.

Michael Welchans