Monday, April 25, 2005

The Shins Part II

"That show changed my life."

As I walked down the stairs on Saturday, an older gentlemen behind me made that ironic joke. Oddly no one else shared in his humor except for my chuckle. It got me thinking.

I vowed I wouldn't make my final conclusion of my weekend with The Shins until I experienced their show for the second time. It turned out that it all depends on who you are with that can make or break a show.

Let us start from the beginning (it's a very good place to start), but I promise I will not make this some long commentary on pop culture meets indie rock. And I am not one to bring a pompous attitude to music by saying I liked the band pre-Garden State. Okay, so I did, but that's not the point. I have a special relationship with The Shins (the kind where you don't actually know the band, but you feel like you know them through their music. Okay, I'm digressing. I was introduced to The Shins in one of the high-points of my life, when I was interviewing Ryan Miller of my favorite band Guster. Because I wanted to be the coolest person in Miller's eyes, and basically have something to talk about besides my adoration for his band next time when I would meet him, I felt inclined to surround myself with this band that named themselves after a forgotten and sometimes painful part of the human body. So I did, and I fell in love immediately. It was creative. It was catchy. It was wonderful. Listening to The Shins was like finding that warm and fuzzy place inside that I wouldn't swear to never let go of.

Okay, so the Garden State happened and everyone and their mother started to hear about The Shins (okay, a bit exaggerated, I know) and like every indie-snob that I hate, I became jealous. It's a terrible thing when a band you really like becomes popular, because you are torn between your possessive love, and your wish for their success. But they were not top 40 or all over MTV, yet, so two nights at Webster, I will willing to finally come out of my shell and see them live for the first time.

Night #1 I was on the press list, and so Liz and I were given VIP passes. We had no idea what they gave us (all we wanted were free drinks) but it led us to a sectioned off area upstairs with a good view, so we were satisfied. The Brunettes wowed us and we were giddy from pure exposure, and while Liz was not nearly as excited as I was to see The Shins, things were on its way. I still could not get over the fact that they had sold out three nights at Webster, and knew this wouldn't have happened so quickly if it wasn't for Mr. Zach Braff, but again, I'm not bitter. I wished them all the best.

So it was finally time for The Shins and Liz and I had moved over to the side of the stage to try and get a view. No luck. People were pushing and groping, and we were just not about to have anything to do with that. So we gladly stepped back, tilted our head to the screen in front of us, while I tried standing on my tippy toes just to get a peek.

Now I know everyone claims New Yorkers are obnoxious but I never believed it until this night. Perhaps it was because we were in that so-called VIP section, but my god! People would do anything to get in front of you, never hearing of the world "excuse me" and felt it was funny to jump up and down knocking into your camera without apologizing. This is The Shins people, not some Kentucky Derby.

Night #2, I was a regular old Shins fan, picked up my purchased tickets and headed in with Jenn. I was pleasantly surprised with a wrist band even after showing my real ID (that has to mean I'm almost there). We walked into the doors to find The Brunettes already on stage, and a packed crowd. We leaned up against the wall towards the side of the stage and I warned Jenn of the freaky Olsen masks. This time Marty and (I think?) James joined them with the weird tribute. Still weirded out, but beginning to come to terms with it.

So The Shins, both nights played solid sets. If I had to pick one, I'd obviously pick the second night because I was in the company of normal (and when I say normal, I mean civil) people, and the crowd just felt more excited to actually be there and listen to the music. They played basically the same songs each night, but in a different order. Highlight for me was "Pink Bullets" and an oldie, "We Built A Raft and Floated It." Although, I don't think there is a Shins song that I wouldn't have loved to hear. I wish they would have played "Weird Divide." I would have loved to have heard that live.

On my walk home in the rain for the second night in a row I reflected on what was bothering me. Why was I not on a naturally high from just seeing The Shins play two nights in a row? A friend of mine months back kept warning me about seeing them live. According to her, they were shitty live, but I wouldn't dare to go that far. They were great performers and James's voice is unreal. What I've decided is that for me at least, I enjoy The Shins on a personal level. It's not that I don't like sharing them with the world, because I recommend this band to everyone I know, but when I listen to them, I prefer to be completely surrounded by their sound, opposed to 14 year olds screaming in my ear, or the constant echo at Webster.

Would I see them again tonight if I had tickets? Absolutely. Do I prefer to listen to them on iPod, yes. But for the record, the ideal experience would having them come to my tiny apartment and play for me. So if you can hook that up for me, let me know and you'll be invited.

As long as you behave.


Chris said...

great post...i'm jealous. :)

J.D. said...

I know what you mean about people bumping into you at the Kentucky Derby, it gets pretty wild there. I'm having a KY Derby party this year at my apt, want to come? Nobody will bump into you there

george said...

I hear ya about The Shins. Jess and I first saw them right when Inverted World came out and they were opening for Red House Painters. We fell in love with them by the third song. We ended up seeing them at a couple more smaller shows before they really started to blow up. Even before Garden State I think they were getting bigger crowds. I'm just glad we saw them 3 or 4 times before the level their at now, though I'm totally happy for their success.

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