Coachella 2013: Postal Service, onstage and in a Silver Lake bedroom

Ben Gibbard of the band The Postal Service performs onstage
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

Many years ago -- it seems like a lifetime -- I used to hang around in a house in the Silver Lake hills lived in by Postal Service producer Jimmy Tamborello. He had a number of roommates, including a friend of mine named Pedro Benito, who once played in a band called Sunday’s Best, and later in the Jealous Sound.

The house had a great view of the reservoir and was the type of place that facilitated the comings and goings of a lot of creative types and many, many musicians. Tamborello was kind and quiet and spent most of his time in his bedroom crafting beats and instrumental tracks. That was probably around 2000 or 2001, so I can only imagine that the tracks he was making at the time were slowly turning into the core of what would become the Postal Service’s debut album, “Give Up.”

So it was with more than a little bit of awe that I watched the Postal Service on the mainstage at Coachella on Saturday night. The idea that music -- big, larger than life music -- can start in a bedroom and grow into a force that can move a field of 80,000 devout music fans made me want to weep for joy.


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Go to Coachella enough times and it’s easy to be cynical. To laugh at the outsize spectacle of it all and at the ridiculous way so many in its orbit can behave (both onstage and off). But to do that too much is to miss the point of the massive musical communion that we take together when we don our wristbands and shuffle down the dusty lanes that lead from the vast parking lots to the Empire Polo Club.

Watching the Postal Service made me remember that -- and why I love music so much to begin with: Because people make it. They make it in their bedrooms and in cramped studios that they can barely afford. They make it because they have to. They make it because something in them is crying out to be expressed and sometimes only a song will do.

And sometimes, just sometimes, that song will go viral and become the singalong of a generation. It will become the soundtrack to memory for a lifetime. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “Such Great Heights” are two such songs for me, and looking out over the field at Coachella I was far from alone.


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