The Shins Go Greek in L.A.
Nothing welcomes the coming of fall better than an evening under an open venue, surrounded by fellow musical connoisseurs indulging their appetites with good music. On the menu on Oct. 7 at the Greek Theatre are the enchanting vocals of James Russell Mercer, Martin Crandall, Dave Hernandez, Jesse Sandoval and Eric Johnson. These humble musicians from Albuquerque, New Mexico have assembled together to form the Shins.
The band’s taste is like a good glass of Sauvignon Blanche: a combination of light percussions mixed with thoughtful lyrics and Mercer’s unique voice pleases the palate with a strong yet tangy flavor. The band’s music tickles the eardrums as listeners consume a plethora of various instrumentals that melts together into a song. As with every good wine, each performance leaves behind a pleasant lingering essence that is subtle at first, but definitely kicks it up a notch later on.
The large Greek Theatre audience showed how massive the band’s fan base has become since their beginning in 1997. People first took notice of the Shins when the band recorded songs for the hit Indie movie ‘Garden State.’ From then on this ensemble of five has launched into the Indie-pop stratosphere with albums such as ‘Wincing the Night’ which placed at number two according to U.S. music charts.
Even with their fan base rapidly expanding around the globe, the members themselves are very down to earth. No glitzy pyrotechnics, no stage makeup, not even a flashy glove or a thong, the only fancy element to Sunday night’s performance were the song lyrics and the parade of instruments. True to their sound, simplicity defines the Shins.
With the lack of distractions, one can appreciate the purity behind the music, which closely resembles the mellowness of Coldplay combined with the happier beat of the Scottish band, Belle and Sebastian, who performed in L.A. alongside the Shins years ago.
The Shin’s name derives from a fictional family in Mercer’s father’s favorite musical, ‘The Music Man,’ and like a family, each member synchronizes so well with one another that it creates the harmony behind the group. During part of the performance, Crandell and Hernandez exchange guitars with each other and each member has a part in the vocals of every song. Though Mercer may be the lead singer, everyone’s input gives variety to the melody giving each song its own unique personality.
Before labeling this band as ‘hippie music,’ know that there is an edgier side to the Shins. The band was gracious enough to return for an encore performance during which they treated the audience to not only one more song, but four free-styled compilations of whatever their hearts desired.
At one point the band even gave a short homage to Mother Nature as it sung a tune about banning the use of toilet paper in order to save the environment. As eco-friendly as that may be, the advice was thankfully taken light-heartedly.
Fall is the ultimate season for change. It is when lighter temperature demands soft music to compliment the warm lattes and hot chocolates to come. The Shins’ airy sounds and deep lyrics converged to embrace the arrival of a new season.