Music: In the Wake of Tragedy

A real time take on the sights and sounds of the music scene, mixed in with a little fashion.  This past week our resident music expert, Taj Simpson, attends one of the most anticipated concerts of the year in the wake of the tragic events that transpired in Boston and Texas.  While only time and persaverance can heal all wounds, music can certainly help be an escape.  Our special column this week is a tribute to all those affected by last weeks horrible events.

(front page and below photo credit: Al Powers)


It's 5:00 pm Friday evening and my eyes are glued to my twitter feed. The city of Boston has been held hostage, literally, for twenty tense hours in pursuit of a suspect responsible for planned tragedy. And down in Texas, accidental tragedy has struck.

I'm personally not in the spirits for a concert tonight. But then I remembered why I started going to shows in the first place; to escape.

A side project made up of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel), and Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), when together call themselves The Postal Service are tonight's entertainment. I might need to say that again. The Postal Service are tonight's entertainment!

The Postal Service released their full length album "Give Up" in February of 2003. Released under Sub Pop Records, "Give Up" is the second best selling record for the label sitting behind Nirvana's "Bleach".

With the platinum success of "Give Up", we could only expect more. But as two years passed, then five years, and so on, we all gave up on the idea of more Postal Service.

And then it's announced; a ten year anniversary tour. The Postal Service is delivering nostalgic notes that's been lost in our minds from a decade ago. And it couldn't of happened at a better time given our current events. If the cab driver asked where I was headed tonight, I'd say, to 2003 please.

It's a sold out crowd inside The Chelsea Ballroom of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The house lights dim and the members of PS take the stage. They slowly key into "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" and suddenly I remember those late nights back in college walking on a frozen Appalachian campus while listening to "Give Up" on my iPod. Each song they play feels like I'm catching up with an old friend telling me about some moment in 2003 I had forgotten about.

A friend with me at the show turns to me and warns if she hears, "This Place is a Prison" she may cry because she went through a break up while this song was playing (they played it, she was okay).

I'm sure most shows are like this, but I noticed that the majority of the crowd is dressed up in black or dark colors; black jeans with black slim-fits, or sun dresses with black roses. It's almost as if we are at the happiest funeral mourning our past-selves from ten years ago. Even the members of PS are dressed in black.

Another observation I couldn't help notice was that front man Ben Gibbard wasn't wearing his favorite article of clothing for many of the songs played; his guitar.

The electro elements of the songs created by The Postal Service had Ben dancing along to the EDM beats Jimmy was laying behind his DJ booth. Jenny Lewis did a little bit of everything during the set; playing guitars, synthesizers, MPCs, drums, vocals, but always found time to twirl in her black cocktail dress and dance along with Ben to songs like "Nothing Better".

Near the end of their set, Ben introduced his fellow band members to the sold out crowd. But before he got started, he proclaimed, "we have been resurrected from the dead." If you're reading this, you're a survivor. A survivor of a tough time, a personal setback, the person you were ten years ago. The Postal Service may have appeared to be dressed for a funeral, but they certainly made us dance like it was our birthday.

•   •   •  

PS - don't give up


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Taj Simpson is OLE MASON JAR's music correspondent who lives in Las Vegas, NV.  Always dressed for the right occasion, Taj also has a keen ear for the right sound...keeping us at the forefront of the music scene, and in tune with the freshest tracks and artists you may / or may not have heard of.


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