Afternoon in Orlando: I'm not sure why the BBQ bar will not open and service my liver while I stand in line for the Postal Service. This show at the Social sold out over a week ago. I've only been down here a year or so but this is the fastest I ever seen a show sell out. This surprised me as the opener was CEX and no one ever seemed to have heard of him and the history of The Postal Service did not seem to demand such a high buy rate of tickets. To catch you up the Postal Service; they are a side project of Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel. They had an EP last year and then this year released the full-length album Give Up. A mix of the amazing lyrics of Gibbard and the mellow electronics of Tamborello seem to gel together perfectly and from the size of this crowd I would say that Give Up must have really struck a chord with everyone that has given it a listen.
After standing in line for what felt like the entire afternoon I finally get in the door and then I realize that next door the BBQ has opened so I retreat for dollar beers and the bar next door. There I meet up with some friends who are selling their tickets. When ask why I get responses like: "Did you see the crowd I'm almost thirty I can't do this." This is from the same man that love to sings the lyrics at every mention of their name and jumps up and down when we play it at work. Oh and then the girl in the black shirt and tight jeans saying that she wont go because "Did you look at the crowd?" Ummâ?¦ yeah, they look like people that want to see some great music. My hands are shacking and my Schlits is spilling on the floor so I turn my head and breath slowly afraid of catching whatever they have that makes them so fucking boring. So they split and I head into the show.
The crowd is black shirt to black shirt, ink to ink and everyone seems really excited and talkative about what is about to happen. First up is CEX. CEX stands in the middle of the crowd and breaks into his shtick. CEX is one of those free style/rapper/electronic/poet men that seem to always open for Sage Francis or others of the underground rap movement that seems to be making its way up into the clubs that cater to people that search for new, great music. However, this is definitely not my thing. He stays on the floor the whole time but lines like "I'll still go platinum" make me cringe and back away a little and after he breaks into two songs where the music sounds like it was taken directly off of Downward Spiral I'm in a booth in the back. I don't feel bad about bailing on CEX, I can still hear him and I don't think I have an appreciation for his work because all the songs blur together into a collage of clever lines to me and I can't make any real experience out of it. The booth is nice though and the girls in it are fun and they even manage to grab Ben Gibbard as he walks by and introduce to a girl that just had half of her wet dreams come true when he shakes her hand and they exchange awkward silences. He seemed like a really friendly guy and reminds me of Phil Collins.
So this brings us here to The Postal Service on Stage at the Social in Orlando Florida. Do you ever dream of having your own band, having your own crowd that knows your lyrics and your inner thoughts? Do you ever fantasize that there will be a huge screen behind you that shows the images that revolve in your head when you sing your songs? That people that won't dance will dance because they can't help it, your music is just that god damned good? That you will be able to play every instrument on stage, the drums, the guitar, the keyboard all while your friend plays in the corner with his I-Mac and a girl with red electric hair dances and sings while playing a keyboard that transmits your deepest musical feelings? Your lyrics would revolve on the wall behind you and people would go nuts at the beginning of every song because they know it, love it and want to sing it with your voice guiding them through the motions and emotions that come from this music? That is what Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello have done with tour. They have brought together a fantasy of music. They open with The District Sleeps Alone and the back wall lights up with clouds and stars as lyrics in laser lights revolve around the tall figure of Gibbard. Tamborello stands in the corner; happily out of the spotlight picking and playing with is computer and instruments. Right away I realize this is not an easy feat to perform this music on stage, the album is like this great square puzzle that has been put together so perfectly that you can't even see the lines between the pieces, you just stand and admire the picture being presented. When done live it's like they are shoving this square picture through the circular lens of a camera and some of the pieces get cracked and you can see the edges but the picture is still there; every bit as beautiful as it was before, you just have to take a step back and let your eyes blur. Gibbard takes us through the night by telling us things like "This song is set in London" and the wall behind him listens and lights up with London so we can see those thoughts he is having whiles singing to us about Such Great Heights. Before This Place is Prison he announces that this song is set in Seattle and we are brought pictures of a beer being drank and feet being shuffled. They play all their songs off both of their releases and simply amaze with each song. The girl with electric hair gets out and sings with Gibbard at times and they dance and move together like we are not even there. The crowd cheers at the beginning of every song an sings along to let him know how much they care. After finishing off with a great rendition of Natural Anthem they retreat and to my surprise a lot of people start leaving. I think people figured they had heard all their songs so that must be the end. However a few minutes later Gibbard was back on stage and doing fittingly enough a Phil Collins song to finish the night.
I found myself thinking back to my friends that had left because they did not feel like they fit in. I think they missed the point. Standing there surrounded by this sold out crowd that just wanted to sing along I know something. It's not about feeling like you belong, looking cool or even meeting new people, sometimes its just about saying thank you. It's about going to a show and thanking the people that make the music that runs along so perfectly with your life, the music that borders your dreams and gives platform to your hopes. And sometimes its about being made very happy when these artists stand on stage and find a way to thank you for being there with them.