Shins salvage subpar week

Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter


It wasn’t enough that I’ve spent every day this week going to bed after midnight and waking up at six for band, but Wednesday I got hit in the head with a frying pan, had my pants accidentally torn by one of my friends, and received two – two! – traffic citations. Not a great week.             Fortunately, since my friends surprised me (the good kind) with a ticket on my birthday, I had this to look forward to. I needed the Shins last night. More than they would ever know.  And they did not disappoint.

The Shins are not the kind of band known for loud, upbeat music. Instead, the Shins (when they’re known at all) are the epitome of laid-back, relaxing indie rock. Don’t believe me? Listen to their top-selling song, “New Slang.”

Back yet?

Good. Walking into the House of Blues, I expected more or less that type of playing style. Sure, the upbeat songs would be upbeat, and the loud parts loud, but overall I was ready for a laid-back, lo-fi performance.

The level of energy from this band was surprising, to say the least. Frontman James Mercer bounced up and down the stage, along with lead guitarist Jessica Dobson and bassist Yuuki Matthews. The added guitar riffs, rhythm changes and some impressive improv work from keyboardist Richard Swift kept the volume and energy levels higher than I ever would have expected from a Shins concert. The Shins managed to provide a completely new perspective to music I’ve been doing my homework to for years, and it was refreshing.

The buildup to the March 20 release of the Shins’ newest album in five years, Port of Morrow, had me worried. Mercer had essentially fired his old band to bring on Dobson, Matthews, Swift and drummer Joe Plummer, and I was worried about the new direction one of my favorite bands would take, let alone their ability to play songs from previous albums.

The release of the Port of Morrow rendered my first fears unnecessary. And after seeing them in concert, it can easily be said that the band can hold its own against the legacy of its own record.

Opening for the Shins was White Rabbits, a band unknown to me and my fellow friends in attendance, but a quick look at their YouTube page indicates a trend of moderate success- their music videos frequently accumulate hundreds of thousands of views, and one –  “Percussion Gun”  from 2009 – surpassing  the one million mark. Although the band possessed just as much energy and, arguably, quality as the main act, they failed to generate the same level of enthusiasm from the crowd that that the Shins did. However, repeated listens at home have definitely put this band on my radar, and regretting not purchasing their latest album Milk Famous after the show.

Ultimately, the unexpectedly upbeat Shins and White Rabbits were the perfect cure to a lousy week.