by A-Train

The Shins are one of the best bands on the music scene right now, with songs that mix thoughtful lyrics, lilting melodies and tuneful harmonies to form a very expressive sound. Their music can sometimes be a little morose and cynical, but then again, so can I. Whether on disc or live-and-in-person, the Shins play short songs but they're each packed with so much depth that they seem much longer. Both of their albums (Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow) are filled with so many gems that listening to them becomes addicting (unlike marijuana) and experiencing them live is a gratifying anomaly that any fan should take advantage of at the next opportunity.

I caught two nights of the three sold out Webster Hall shows here in NYC and was only sorry I couldn’t make the third. The Shins put on stellar performances each night, with rockin’ renditions of "Girl Inform Me", "Kissing the Lipless" and "Turn a Square" not to mention the balcony shaking "So Says I". Other highlights included an acoustic "New Slang," a cover of the Magnetic Fields’ "Strange Powers" and the creepy yet entertaining cameos of Shins James Mercer (guitar, vocals) and Marty Crandall (keyboards, guitars) donning Mary Kate/ Ashley masks while rocking out Partridge Family style with the quirky opening band: The Brunettes.

The Brunettes were a good opener for the Shins, as they gave the crowd something to talk/complain about. I heard a few people commenting about how they were a novelty act and that they’d never make it. Every one’s a critic. I like bitter people though; they make me feel better about myself. The odd thing is that the Shins’s themselves actually seem to be a pretty happy bunch. The keyboard player, Marty Crandall, is a goofball – or was on the goofballs. Not sure which. He kept shouting “Shomar Shabas” and thanking all the Jewish fans for coming out during Passover. Hard to say whether he is more a fan of the Jews or the Big Lebowski. I think both. Also, the lead singer, James Mercer mentioned something about his birthday being on 4/20. I’m totally crashing that party next year.

I left the shows truly satisfied and eagerly awaiting the release of their next album which they’ll be working on right after this tour ends. Having already heard a sample of the new songs, I’m pretty confident that their new one will be just as good as the last two. The Shins are only on tour for a few more weeks, so make sure you get out to see them while you can. Or else you’ll be kicking yourself…you know where.