Festival envy

Ben Gibbard: Soul Crusher

Ben Gibbard: Soul Crusher

By Daniella Cortez
Let me set the scene for you: it’s 10 p.m. last night and I’ve just gotten snuggled into bed. I’m doing my normal before bed ritual of checking everything on the Internet via my iPhone. I’m checking my Twitter feed and I see that a well known mid April music festival has released their line up. Sweet. I’ll click on that link and take a peek at the three days worth of bands that I know I won’t be able to afford to go see. Most of the bands are predictable. One band catches my eye and I spring from my bed, alarming both my husband and our Chihuahua and rush out to the living room to pull up the Internet on my actual computer.

My husband, who lovingly bears with my crazy music obsessions, barely even acknowledges my outburst of “after TEN YEARS!” and lets me get to my research. Within seconds I go from absolute elation to crushing disappointment.


The Coachella Music and Arts Festival happens in the middle of the desert each spring and features a pretty massive line up of bands and artists familiar to most mainstream and/or indie music fans. You can be certain you’ll see names like Modest Mouse, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and whoever is topping the alternative, hip hop or Top 40 charts at the moment. (Bands like The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men and 2Chainz this year.) There are some surprises too, The Stone Roses for example and more specifically to this story of heartbreak and woe: The Postal Service.

The Postal Service was a side project of Deathcab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard. They released a single album in 2003 with absolutely no plans to record a second one. It was one perfect little album that was the soundtrack to 2003 for me. And apparently for a lot of other people too. So when I saw their name on the line up I could only assume that they were reuniting because they must be putting out a new album. Why else would Gibbard forgo playing in support of his recently released solo album to reunite a band that made one album a decade ago? To play with my emotions apparently, that’s why.

The Postal Service is not recording a new album. They’re reissuing a deluxe edition of Give Up. Let me be clear, this means that Ben Gibbard is breaking my heart. “Such Great Heights” was played at nearly every wedding I attended between 2003-2008 in some version or another (usually Iron and Wine’s soul crushing acoustic rendition), “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” was played on a loop after a particularly brutal break up. “Brand New Colony” is my go-to jam for road trips. I once wrote out the girl parts of “Nothing Better” in a Dear John letter to emphatically illustrate my urgency to leave a relationship. It is a ten-song collection of every feeling I felt during most of my 20’s.

I am not going to be able to attend Coachella. It’s expensive, it’s hot, and it’s crowded. Half the people there are on drugs, most of them haven’t showered for days and all the food is overpriced and covered in a fine layer of dust. I went in 2009 to see The Cure, My Bloody Valentine and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O was wearing some kind of plastic dress that I was confused and envious of, My Bloody Valentine met my musical needs on a spiritual level and Robert Smith made me cry with joy in the middle of a field filled with (somewhat) reformed goth kids. It was a bizarre but beautiful event that I don’t ever want to go to again. Despite knowing I don’t really want to go, I always check out the line-ups and do the little pros and cons list in my head to see if it’s worth the cost and possible panic attacks to go.

The Postal Service almost tips the balances towards a yes. I will turn 31 the weekend Coachella takes place this year. I was 21 when the album came out. I never saw the Postal Service live. This could be my only chance. Lord knows they probably won’t tour to Alaska. I know I can’t take four days off to hang out in Indio, California in April. I’m a busy grown up with rent and a dog and a trip planned to ComicCon in July. (I know, maybe I’m not that much of a grown up yet.) So by 10:15 p.m. last night I had come to the awful conclusion that Ben Gibbard is intentionally ruining my life and does not want me to be happy.

Audience participation time: what band would you be willing to spend three nights in the desert to see?

Daniella Cortez

About Daniella Cortez

Entertainment editor and your gal about town. Doing my best to bring you the highs and lows of Anchorage's arts and entertainment scene.

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