THE POSTAL SERVICE, 10, of Los Angeles, played their final show Aug. 5, 2013 at Metro in Chicago.
BIRTH: Though the group’s seminal album, Give Up, was released on Feb. 19, 2003, the birth of the Postal Service can be traced back even further. The band’s parents, Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, first collaborated on the track “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan” by Dntel, Tamborello’s solo project, from 2001’s Life Is Full Of Possibilities.
HISTORY: The entirety of the band’s early touring took place in a three-month window in early 2003. At the time, Give Up had received very little attention, and the group performed for modest crowds. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, who was brought in to record vocals and keyboards on the album, joined Gibbard and Tamborello on the road.
In the fall of 2003 Gibbard’s main project, Death Cab For Cutie, released their breakthrough album, Transatlanticism. Death Cab’s success, combined with licensing deals and a popular Iron & Wine cover of “Such Great Heights” (which appeared in the film Garden State in 2004), helped propel The Postal Service to fame and Give Up to platinum status, well after the band had stopped performing.
LEGACY: For years, talk of a second Postal Service album persisted and at times, even seemed to be a possibility. However, a decade passed, and with no new developments on the album front, it began to feel like a pipe dream. Then, suddenly, in early 2013, rumors of a reunion began to swirl ahead of the annual Coachella festival, famous for resurrecting legendary acts.
In January, Coachella was confirmed, along with the announcement of a 10-year anniversary deluxe re-issue of Give Up. In February, the band announced a world tour and further extended it in April. Mirroring their early days, the Postal Service spent less than four months on the road before calling it a day, this time for good. While the band’s original run saw them performing in bars and small clubs, their reunion took place in arenas, amphitheaters and concert halls.
Along with the reissue, the band released two new tracks, which will serve as their last ever: “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line Of String.”
FINAL DAYS: Throughout the reunion—which saw the addition of Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds to the band’s live lineup of Gibbard, Tamborello and Lewis—the Postal Service remained silent on their future, refusing to answer questions about new album prospects or plans beyond their scheduled performances.
On August 3, the same day the band were scheduled to perform at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, Gibbard announced that the group’s performance at Chicago’s Metro the following night would be their very last.
LAST WORDS: Fittingly, the Postal Service’s end arrived much like their beginning: in a small, intimate setting and with little fanfare. Indie pop duo Mates Of State opened, and, though the show began on the evening of August 4, it was midnight on August 5 that the Postal Service took the stage for the final time. The group performed everything; all ten tracks of Get Up, two B-sides, the new songs, a Beat Happening cover and, fittingly, “(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan.”
The last song ever performed by the Postal Service as a band was “Such Great Heights,” a track without the success of which, the reunion wouldn’t have been possible.
SURVIVED BY: Though the Postal Service may be gone, their legacy will never be forgotten, nor will the members slow down. Gibbard, in addition to a solo career, remains the frontman of Death Cab For Cutie. Tamborello continues to produce electronic music as Dntel. Though Rilo Kiley stopped performing in 2008, Lewis has found success as a solo artist and frequent collaborator.