"Ladies and gentleman, we're back from the dead," Ben Gibbard told the audience to open the Postal Service's festival-closing gig Monday night at the Gorge Amphitheatre. Ben is sort of back from the dead, too.
Following his divorce from Zooey Deschanel, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman revived his one-off dance-pop/New Wave project, whose 2003 debut album Give Up sold a million albums in the decade since its release. In turn, Ben also revived himself. Monday night at Sasquatch, the once shy, tender-hearted and downright nerdy frontman of Death Cab stepped out as another Gibb, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, working it onstage with swag.
Ben embraced the night (the moment!), letting his romantic heart bleed all over the crowd at home in his native Northwest. He (musically) flirted with Jenny Lewis, swingin' those hips awful close. He sang of unrequited love and even quoted Madonna's "Express Yourself." Yeah, that.
Here are the most love-drunk, tender-hearted moments from the Postal Service's headlining gig Monday night...
--"I was the one worth leaving," Gibbard cooed on the set's opening track, "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight." A fan shouted "Zooey Deschanel!!!" in response. Ben smirked and carried on, head up. Attaboy!
--Ben seriously worked it with Jenny, grinding up near her hips while riffing on the guitar. At one point she blushed. How does her longtime boyfriend, singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice, feel about all that? Probably not good.
--Gibbs seriously brought the dance moves. He wore a pair of bell-bottoms from a disco party. He busted out his own version of the electric slide and worked those hips like he just discovered their sexual powers. Combined with his hushed-whisper voice, you feel very close to Mr. Gibbard, even if he's 50 feet away onstage. "Work it Ben!!!," hollered a fan.
--Then he introduced the Postal Service's hit "We Will Become Silhouettes" by quoting Madonna's "Express Yourself," naturally: "Hey girls do you believe in love? Because I have something to say about it. It goes something like this..."
--Gibbard's voice warped into a robotic outro on another track, recalling the dance act du jour, Daft Punk. Hey, the Parisian duo may be softening up on that new LP, Random Access Memories, but they'll never, ever be this emo.
--"Be still my heart!" Ben shouted between songs, just because.
--Gibbard honored "the best band ever," Olympia, WA's Beat Happening, led by K Records honcho Calvin Johnson, with a cover of their nerdy teen love jam "Our Secret." "I saw a pretty girl / She held open the door / I said 'I like you' / She said that she liked me and we could be friends / In our special stupid way." Then he absolutely turbo-charged the twinkling solo.
--He got all sentimental about his return to Washington State. "Last time we played in the Pacific Northwest was on this stage," he said, referencing their gig nearly a decade ago. "It feels great to be home." Then he introduced "This Place Is a Prison" as "a song about where I'm from," which namedrops the Puget Sound.
--Grateful to fans for the New Wave band's return: "We're so grateful you still care about this record," he said. "We are here because of you. We are here because of a love song."
--That love song is "Such Great Heights," the breakout single from Give Up. Ben led a clap intro, stoking the crowd from the wings of the stage. "I am thinking it's a sign," he sang, "that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned."
--"Be good to each other!" he instructed to close the set. Which is, like, such a Gibbard thing to say.