The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie share the anniversary of two landmark records - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Last night at The Mann was a special one for indie music fans of the aughts. 2003 saw the release of two of the genre’s most outstanding and enduring records, Death Cab for Cutie‘s Transatlanticism and The Postal Service‘s Give Up, their only record to date. 20 years later, the bands — both led by frontperson Ben Gibbard — wanted to celebrate the albums with fans on a 30+ date tour, with Gibbard pulling double duty. With such strong appeal, the show at Fairmount Park’s Mann Center was packed.

Part of the spectacle’s key demographic myself, which comprises a good decade plus of sensitive millennials, there was no telling who from my life I’d run into at this 14,000 capacity show. The strangers I met however left the greatest impression, like the man next to me who had come down from the lawn under the pavilion in hopes of getting a better view. Or the woman next to me, who said she had just seen the show in DC, but when tickets became available for the Philly show last-minute, leaped at the opportunity to see the bands twice in one week. Just about everyone in eyesight could sing the words to each song, played satisfyingly in album order. And the songs themselves, performed with remarkable energy, were eerily unchanged from the studio recordings. Records we all owned that, if they hadn’t been released at the peak of digital music, would be vinyl too worn to properly play.

Death Cab for Cutie | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

If you’re a fan reading along who wasn’t at the show, you could probably guess which live songs were the standouts. The triumphant and percussive opening of “The New Year” was an appropriate kick-off, followed by a rise of cathartic, nostalgic energy for singles “Title and Registration” and “The Sound of Settling,” two songs wary of the resignation of adulthood, that hit a little harder with age. The pounding, repeated “I need you so much closer,” in “Transatlanticism” was captivating, and the chilling closer “A Lack of Color” was perfectly poignant. “These songs are all true stories,” Gibbard said. The exception being “Death of an Interior Decorator,” a song with a violent ending about a marriage that goes on despite the knowledge of infidelity, which truthfully was the toughest to believe anyway.

The Postal Service | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

A quick fifteen minute break, hardly enough time for all the audience to relieve their bladders, and an outfit change later, Gibbard was back on stage with The Postal Service. The deep humming of “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” complete with Jenny Lewis’ backing harmonies, sent chills up our collective spine. Lewis sounded spectacular on highlights like “Nothing Better,” which was performed with more chemistry between her and Gibbard than the song — in which she urges him to abandon his blinding fantasy of their love — perhaps warranted. But that’s hardly a criticism; the greatest charm of the show was how much the band seemed to be enjoying these songs as much as the fans. And Gibbard, once a shy indie guy, has become quite the gleeful performer.

Despite possessing a low tolerance for nostalgia bids, this reviewer felt at peace. And will see you all at the next one in another ten years. See below for a photo gallery.

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