Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Shins' Return

On Sunday, May 17, the Wellmont Theatre was filled to capacity. The balcony was full, and by the time the opening band stepped onstage, there was barely floor space to stand. Packed like sardines, people young and old anxiously waited for the show to begin. They were there to see The Shins, the band that is sometimes described as the template for indie rock perfection, so it was understandable that the venue was overcrowded. This was also the first time The Shins have been on tour since promoting their third album Wincing the Night Away in 2007, so both fans who had seen The Shins a few years before and those who had never seen them live were excitedly anticipating that night. Once the lights dimmed, the dull murmur of voices exploded into whistles and cheers, generating a clearly joyous atmosphere in the Wellmont Theatre.

Before The Shins took the stage, Delta Spirit entertained the crowd. The soulful indie rock quartet combined their alt-country style with the banging of a trashcan lid and lead singer Matthew Vasquez’s screams to create a distinctive sound. Usually, the opening band barely satisfies the audience, but Delta Spirit succeeded in capturing the crowd's attention. Twenty minutes later, after Delta Spirit ended their set with the wild beating of multiple drums and a bluesy, piano-laced song, The Shins walked onstage. Barely waiting for the crowd to cease their thunderous yells, lead singer James Mercer signaled the band to begin.

Nearly everyone was able to sing along to each song The Shins performed. The second song of the night, “Phantom Limb” was known as the single off of Wincing the Night Away and “Saint Simon” from the band’s mainly acoustic album Chutes Too Narrow was greeted by another explosion from the audience. After every couple of songs, Mercer and the band took the time to talk to the crowd, declaring, “It’s movie night!” after he warned them not to see the movie Anvil unless they wanted to sob uncontrollably. Later, he asked if anyone had seen any good movies recently, while he sipped what looked like champagne from a wine glass. The Shins made sure to chat and interact with their adoring fans, bringing smiles and laughs, and of course fantastic music.

Later, the mood of the venue mellowed, partially because of the flashing, color-changing lights behind the band that changed to calming blues and greens.  It was then that Mercer flashed a grin and chuckled, “Let’s get melancholy,” before beginning the relaxing tune, “Those to Come,” which prompted the crowd to sway and sing along softly. The Shins then faded into “Sleeping Lessons,” a song that slowly builds to a crescendo that led to Mercer shouting and the crowd beginning to dance. The mass of people also cheered on The Shins’ guitarist, Dave Hernandez, during his solos and danced even more during “Australia.”

After The Shins left the stage that night, they returned to perform an encore for screaming fans. The Shins played their hit song, “New Slang” and a few new catchy and upbeat songs that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. During their last song, the guitarist beckoned two girls onstage and gave his guitar to one of the girls, who simply strummed along with Mercer’s voice. Afterward, The Shins thanked the crowd and walked off stage, signaling the end to an incredible night.

1 comment:

  1. kinda pissed I missed this showing living about 10 minutes away but the price tag turned me off.

    looking forward to their new stuff, Mercer's effort on the New Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse project is quite good.

    nice post