I have a love-hate relationship with sit-down shows. Of course, it’s nice to have a night off of my feet but I feel like sit-down shows lose a sense of energy and crowd participation. I was so excited to see The Shins as they are one of those bands that I have never seen live but the fact that it was in the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre meant it would be a sit-down show and I was worried that it was going to ruin my experience.
Opening act Joseph took the stage promptly at 8 PM and wasted no time jumping into a jaw-dropping set. I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the opener on Saturday night. I knew that The Shins’ music was already not quite my type of tea (although I love them) and figured that the opener, although talented, wouldn’t quite hook me but Joseph had my mind changed on that within the first few seconds of their set. Joseph is made up of three sisters which they explained after a few songs but the connection between these three women was clear. The mannerisms of all three sisters matched but were never specifically coordinated which made it super fun to watch all three members. From the passionate guitar playing from Natalie and the sheer amount of fun that twins Allison and Meegan were having on stage, it was one of those sets where I didn’t even want to blink for fear of missing something.
I really can not understate the sheer power of this band. From goosebump-inducing vocals to personalities that shined not only through their movements throughout the songs but also the banter that they had with the audience as they introduced some of their songs, I never wanted their set to end. There was something so put together about this group. True professionals through and through but they still had some comments throughout their set that made me feel like I have known them for years (including a nod to Love Island which Allison perfectly described to the audience just in case they had never seen the show before). From their originals to a stunning cover of Britney Spears’s “Toxic”, I was truly on the edge of my seat as they played and, as the trio left the stage, I was left with my jaw on the ground and butterflies in my stomach. I know I’m missing something here but the truth is I couldn’t even pull myself away from their set long enough to take notes.
Joseph could have been the only band performing on Saturday night and I would have been more than content and satisfied but we still had the headliner, The Shins, to go and my shock from what had just happened quickly turned to excitement as the stage was turned over for The Shins. Hailing from New Mexico, The Shins were one of those bands that seemed to have a few hits but never quite got the attention that they so badly deserved. I feel like if you are at a party of something and put on their hit song “New Slang”, people would be nodding and singing along but may not know who was actually playing the song but that hasn’t stopped this band from being a staple in so many indie kids’ playlists. Although I would have loved to hear The Shins play their entire discography, Saturday night was in celebration of 21 years of their debut album ‘Oh, Inverted World’ and it was beyond perfect.
The first half of their set was a playthrough of this monumental album from “Caring is Creepy” to “The Past and Pending”, the band didn’t shy away from songs that they didn’t normally play or save their hits for the end, they powered through the album as if recreating all of those moments when the audience members were much younger and listening to the album in full back in the bedrooms or cars or wherever they were when they were introduced to this band. The nostalgic power of hearing the album exactly how it was made was powerful and it was impossible to not just get lost in it all. The members of Joseph were brought back out throughout the album to just really fill out the sound and create the vocal layers that made ‘Oh, Inverted World’ the stunning masterpiece it is which was just the icing on the cake when it came to the performance.
There were a couple of tense moments in the audience during the album playthrough all stemmed from a few people in the audience standing up for the set. I don’t blame them. Had this been my favorite band of all time, I wouldn’t have wanted to be constrained to a seat, and, hell, you paid for the ticket– you should be able to enjoy the show in any way you want to whether that’s standing and bopping around or just sitting and tapping your toes. Before Joseph left the stage for the final time, I noticed Natalie go up to Mark Watrous of The Shins and whisper something in his ear. The rest of The Shins tried to jump into the next song but also caught on to the secret conversation happening. Ends up that Natalie had pointed out the few people standing and wanted to make sure people knew that it was okay to stand. The Shins’ vocalist James Mercer quickly mentioned that standing was not frowned upon and, without another word, the entire audience rose to their feet to finish off the set. I think that this show would have been better suited for First Avenue or The Palace Theatre but I did appreciate the beauty that was created both visually and sonically by placing this show in the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre. It’s just that the shift in energy when everyone stood up was so stark and I regretted that it hadn’t happened earlier in the set.
The Shins wrapped up their set with a few tracks from various other albums and a quick medley of covers including “Undone- The Sweater Song” from Weezer, “Vasoline” from Stone Temple Pilots, and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears. Although it was fun to hear these various other songs, the highlight of their set was absolutely the nostalgia and comfort that came from the album playthrough.
It has been twenty-one years since The Shins released ‘Oh, Inverted World’. Cheers to twenty-one more!