Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeAs the first signs of summer had begun to appear in Milwaukee, The Shins blew through the Rave with some spring air, and their performance was nearly as refreshing. Blending elements of Brit pop with sounds you might expect to hear from a Beck or a Wilco, The Shins displayed their unique sound in songs that were often intricate in mood and sonically full of new buds and blossoms.
The show started with a decidedly acoustic portion of the evening that allowed for some haunting moments such as a harmonica solo amongst a murmur of sound from the other instruments-- the tune producing a soundscape of a lone soul walking amongst a vast expanse of land and playing to that void. Then, there was a switch to electric, and the band used the extra power to gradually raise the intensity and energy of the set. Whether the songs were on acoustic or electric guitars, images flooded the mind as their songs unfolded before the crowd. There was an honesty to this performance as well. The vocals sung by James Mercer were revealing and telling, and the laid-back, no-frills stage persona of the whole group was almost stoic in producing these sounds. There were some smiles, a few jokes, and a little dancing about, but the on-stage actions never seemed forced and never distracted the listener from the music.
With the crowd supporting them all the way, The Shins went deep into their musical pockets and played nearly every song they've recorded: "Know Your Onion!," "The Past and Pending," "So Says I," "Pink Bullets,"... Ending the show with an encore, the set clocked in at nearly a modest hour and a half and was five or six songs away from an incredible show. The band did apologize for having to leave the excited crowd when they did and promised to work on new material to fill a longer show on a future Milwaukee tour stop. If this performance was a sign of things to come, then these indie rockers will only build on what is already a good and solid show.
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