Starting the final day of a festival with rain is never an ideal situation – even if it is in Washington. But it all seemed a bit appropriate for the fourth day of Sasquatch! – where fans remained, promised with arguably the most buzzed-about performance of the weekend: a headlining set by the revived Postal Service.
It’s no surprise that thousands of fans remained – even if it meant exchanging shorts and tank tops for hoodies and ponchos. Even if it meant making the long walk from the campgrounds to the venue in the mud. And even if it meant leaving the grounds after the set – or extremely early Tuesday morning.
“This band is called the Postal Service.”
Until a few months ago, this statement would have sounded absurd. And despite the months we’ve had to let it all soak in, the reality that Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (DNTEL) have rebooted their 2003 side project for a series of anniversary shows, couldn’t feel more unexpected.
They’ve made the conditions clear: no new music – with the exception of a few unreleased tracks and a handful of b-sides and covers. But it hasn’t made the anticipation that led up to this show any more mild. What these conditions resulted in was a hour and a half long sing along of songs many have had on repeat since their initial release.
The last time the Postal Service performed in the Pacific Northwest was in 2004, at this very festival, on this very same stage. The shared history, paired with Gibbard’s unadulterated love for the Northwest, made the full-circle mentality of it all that more real.
“We’re back from the dead,” Gibbard remarked before dipping into “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,”– backed by an elaborate showing of pulsating purple and pink lights. Instantly, the crowd – slimmed down in relation to previous nights, but equally enthralled – responded.
The underlying theme of this night, this reunion performance was made clear in the repetition of one phrase heard in the audience on several occasions: I almost feel 15 again And for all of the people that braved the wet day, that was the ultimate reward.
These songs have come to be the soundtrack to a generation - and for good reason. Until this project came about, nothing combining beefy synth beats, relatable lyrics and eloquent delivery had been done. In the years since the initial release, it’s been attempted – but never really achieved to the same extent.
The Postal Service headlining the final night of Sasquatch! was a great move on the part of the festival planners. Why? Because the repeat performance is the exact thing people have been craving for nine years. And it kept a lot of us there until the end.
The thing about the Postal Service set is that, as a show, it was far from the most awe-inspiring. Those honors could be given to any other of the previous headliners this weekend: Macklemore, who pulled out all the stops for his opening night extravaganza. Or Sigur Ros, whose haunting visuals paired more than perfectly with their beautifully chilling sounds. Or Mumford and and Sons, whose live show will make a believer out of anyone walking the folk fence.
But only in theory. Because this is the one that had the most to lose.
For the people who’ve been seriously affected by these songs, by the feelings and ideas brought to life by Tamborello and Gibbard ten years ago, this was the holy grail. An unparalleled, unprecedented dream come true.
“The only reason we’re here tonight is because of you guys,” Gibbard continued, between quirky dance moves and rejuvenated synth drops. “And because of a love song; it goes something like this…”
As the opening notes of “Such Great Heights” filled the speakers, sounds and feelings filled the amphitheatre for the last time this weekend – a moment impressed upon when the band returned to the stage for an encore performance of “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” and “Brand New Colony.”