Home Live Review Live Review: The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie w/ Lauren Mayberry @ The Anthem — 9/6/23

Live Review: The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie w/ Lauren Mayberry @ The Anthem — 9/6/23

Live Review: The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie w/ Lauren Mayberry @ The Anthem — 9/6/23
The Postal Service performs at The Anthem on Sept. 6, 2023. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

The roar from the crowd. I was busy doing my thing in the photo pit, but you couldn’t help but pause and take it in. Not even three minutes into their set, the 6,000-strong sellout DC crowd was absolutely bursting at the seams to scream “DC sleeps alone tonight” as loud as possible as The Postal Service started their set with the first track off of their album “Give Up.” It was a moment, one of the coolest I’ve experienced at The Anthem. 

The night’s other big roar was three songs later, as Jenny Lewis stepped out from behind her keyboard rig to sing counterpoint to Ben Gibbard during “Nothing Better,” the millennial “Islands in the Stream.” The playful back and forth between Gibbard and Lewis was note perfect and allowed someone other than Gibbard to take the spotlight for the first time all night.

Stream “Nothing Better” by The Postal Service on YouTube:

All those people were crammed into The Anthem to celebrate two seminal albums written by Ben Gibbard on Sept. 6, The Postal Service’s “Give Up” and Death Cab For Cutie’s “Transatlanticism,” both released in 2003 and celebrating 20th anniversaries this year. What better reason than to see Gibb play both front to back, back to back?

As I’ve said many, many times, this concert format has its ups and downs. “Give Up,” full of dancey hit singles and other electro bops until the track 8 curveball “This Place is a Prison,” has a pacing that lends itself well to this format. 

Less so for “Transatlanticism,” which kicks off with the rock perfection of “The New Year” before slamming on the brakes with the next song, the downtempo, dirge-like “Lightness.” However, it heads back in the right direction with “Title and Registration,” “Expo 86” and singalong fave “The Sound of Settling.” Hearing the title track, the usual set closer, so early in the set was a bit disorienting. The standout Death Cab song for me on this night was “We Looked Like Giants,” particularly the jammy end bit.

Stream “We Looked Like Giants” by Death Cab for Cutie on YouTube:

Back to the crowd, they were bang up for this gig, especially the Give Up portion of the night. The joy emanating from everyone was palpable and easily spread to the performers on stage. The only time I’ve felt vibes like that was for Phoebe Bridgers last year.

The only nitpick one could level at the show was by playing these two albums in this format removes all suspense and spontaneity from the night, which is certainly valid. Night 1 had the suspense of what would be played for the Postal Service’s encore, which turned out to be an acoustic version of “Such Great Heights” and an amazing cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence.” They repeated that encore on Night 2. 

CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry started the night, just the third solo gig of her nascent solo career. She played six new songs that weren’t miles away from her band’s sound but perhaps had a softer pop edge, and a cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.”

So all in all, I walked out of the venue with a huge smile on my face, knowing I had just shared a special moment with 6,000 other people. For someone as jaded as me, that doesn’t happen very often. On a scale of 1-10, I give this show “I heard Jenny Lewis sing a Depeche Mode song.”

Didn’t score tickets for either of the shows at The Anthem? You might have a chance to see this show again on Sept. 14 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. But as of today, it too is sold out.

Here are some photos of The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, and Lauren Mayberry performing at The Anthem on Sept. 6, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Kyle Gustafson.

The Postal Service

Death Cab For Cutie

Lauren Mayberry


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