Concert Review: The Shins

The Shins played at SDSU's Open Air Theatre this past weekend. Photo by Eden Frost


by Eden Frost


The Shins
Open Air Theatre at SDSU
September 30th 2012


With their electronic rhythm and hypnotizing light show of purples and blues, opening act Washed Out put the crowd in a bit of a mellow trance before The Shins on Sunday at the Open Air Theatre at SDSU. Reminiscent of a younger sounding U2, the band’s vocals meshed with the electric flow of their songs and had the crowd swaying in their seats as we waited for The Shins to take the stage. Playing a solid set, the band was a quality opener and indicator of the fun to come. After a short intermission, the lights went out and the Albuquerque, New Mexico based band took the stage.


As the sounds of “Rifle Spiral” started to blare out from the stage, I was eager to get up and start dancing, but was one of maybe five others standing in my section. After making my way closer to the stage, the crowd seemed to loosen up a bit and got in on the performance with “Phantom Limb,” Ooh-ing and Ahh-ing along with lead singer, James Mercer. The band hit their classics (“New Slang” “Sleeping Lessons” and “Know Your Onion”) along with many songs from their new album, Port of Morrow including hit “Simple Song”. Mercer proudly introduced their title track and the stage dawned green lights as they played away and moved effortlessly into “New Slang.” They played for about an hour and it seemed as though the show had just really started when the band was thanking us for coming out and headed back stage, waiting for the crowd to call them back out.


Upon returning for their encore set, the band gave their first time live performance of “Fall of ’82,” which Mercer dedicated to his sister who helped raise him. It was a sentimental dedication that gave the lyrics and performance of the song all the more meaning both for him, and the crowd. An emphasized guitar performance balanced out the soft lyrics and his gratitude for his sister really came through.


The band went into “No Way Down” with a much groovier and passionate take on their recorded album version that really got everyone standing up and feeling all that the band had to offer. With the excitement growing and the show coming to a close, Mercer thanked us for coming out and claimed San Diego to be the best crowd they’ve had on their tour so far.


Before he sent us on our way Mercer introduced his friends and fellow band mates (Joe Plummer on drums, Yuuki Mathews on bass, Jessica Dobson on guitar and backing vocals and Richard Swift on keyboard and synthesizing some of the bands signature sounds) as they went into an awesome modified version of “One By One All Day.” For their final encore, keyboardist Richard Swift turned it out with a slowed down solo that had the audience clapping along. Each of the band members took a moment to showcase their unique talent and sounds that come together as the undeniably lovable band that is The Shins. As the show really came to a close my only complaint was that I wished it would keep going! Three encores just wasn’t enough but they definitely kept the audience wanting more and I’m sure they’ll continue to do so as they head to Los Angeles to play at the Gibson Amphitheatre.