Monday, March 26, 2007

"So give me your hand, and let's jump out the window..."

First off it is about time I got around to writing this entry! On March 14th I went to see The Shins with opener Viva Voce at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. My former roommate’s girlfriend Liz joined me for this fun evening. I really like Liz, and any time I get to spend with her is a treat. Plus she also likes The Shins. It always is fun to go to a show with someone who can appreciate the band.

I arrived a few moments after doors had opened, and was getting pretty excited. I have always wanted to see The Shins since first seeing their video for “So Says I.” However, my whole time in the DC area the closest they came was when they were one of the openers (the other was M. Ward) for The White Stripes. So once their new album, Wincing The Night Away, was released I started stalking their web site to see if their tour would include NYC. At first it didn’t, but soon more dates were added and so was NYC. Hooray!

The opening act was Viva Voce, a husband and wife duo (Kevin and Anita Robinson), from PDX via Alabama, and The Shins’ good friends. Their latest album, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, was released last September. Anita you might have seen singing with The Shins when they performed on Letterman, Conan, and SNL. But she with her husband is just as rockin’. They played a solid set that included “We Do Not Fuck Around,” “Believer,” and “From the Devil Himself.” They didn’t play “Drown The Out” which made me very sad, because that is my favorite song on the new album. However, Kevin provided some fun banter in between songs. There was one moment when he asked the audience if anyone had any questions. Someone yelled out if she was taken, she being Anita. Kevin replied by saying, “Yeah. By these guns” and flexed his muscles. Overall I thought Viva Voce was great live. I think they would be fun to see in a smaller venue, and maybe with a crowd who was not only there to see The Shins.

After a 30 minute break The Shins took the stage. They started out with the first four tracks from Wincing: “Sleeping Lessons,” “Australia,” Pam Berry,” and “Phantom Limb” (Anita joined them on that one). Then they followed up with Chutes Too Narrow’s “Kissing the Lipless.” I leaned over to Liz and whispered, “Are they going to play the first four songs off of each of their albums in a row?” But they did not. The rest of their set list included Oh, Inverted World and Garden State gems “Caring Is Creepy”, and “New Slang” (Anita joined them on this one). Also from that album they played “Girl on the Wing,” “Girl Inform Me,” and “Know Your Onion!” They mixed those in with other songs from the other two albums like “Saint Simon,” “Sea Legs,” “Girl Sailor,” “A Comet Appears,” and “Turn On Me” (joined by Anita). They played a good hour before leaving the stage.

After a few minutes they came back, where they started out with Chute’s “Pink Bullets.” By far my favorite song from that album, and possibly my favorite Shins song. They continued on, and at one point covered a Modern Lovers song, where Kevin joined them on stage to play the cowbell. It was fabulous.

The show itself was fantastic. However, there was one thing that just made it not so great. And that had to be the crowd. Not only were there a few people who were just down right rude when Viva Voce was on the stage, yelling at them to “Get off!” and booing, but the amount of talking during the show really bothered me. The sound for The Shins was not really loud. It was a good level, but not as loud to drown out the talking. Even during the songs I thought people would be quiet for, nope…talking. It was really annoying to hear conversations such as, “Dude gonna get another beer. Do you want one? Dude? Dude?” and hearing about an awful date. People you are at a show and from what I can tell you are all adults. You don’t have a curfew. You can hang out with your friends whenever you want. Do you really need to talk about how much your boss sucks in the middle of James Mercer singing? Really? Oh you do? Okay then. Please continue being rude.

But even though a good majority of the crowd seemed to be jerks, the show itself was great. I would love to see both acts again. To end the evening on a high note, as I was leaving to get in the taxi line I saw Kevin and Anita walking by. I smiled and got a wink from Kevin and a wave from Anita. So it was hard to leave grumpy after that.


“Phantom Limb”

“Pink Bullets”

“From the Devil Himself”

I hate it when people talk during the show--last time this happened was seeing Camera Obscura at Wardaw (which is, unless you want the beer, not really a great venue anyway, especially sound-wise). I have to confess to occasionally being the dick who is talking though.
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