James Mercer is familiar with the high desert. He spent time in Albuquerque in his 20’s, forming The Shins with friends while attending the University of New Mexico. So, the unpredictable weather we often get in the spring was no biggie for The Shins frontman. With a funny comparison to Iceland aside, the Portland-based popsters played through the unseasonable wind and rain at The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool.
Burgeoning Santa Barbara outfit Gardens & Villa were impressive in that they mixed synth stylings with surprising live instrumentation, including a quiver (yes, I said quiver) of flutes. Maybe the summery vibe they put forth in their performance warmed up the crowd a bit, because nobody really seemed to mind the crap weather as the main act prepared to go on.
The Shins are touring behind Port of Morrow, their long anticipated fourth album. They played some new tunes including “Simple Song” and “September,” but in a surprising move, opened with “Kissing the Lipless” and “Mine’s Not a High Horse,” both off 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow. This was also a chance for Mercer to test out his newly recruited guns (longtime members Jesse Sandoval and Marty Crandall were quietly dismissed after touring commenced from their last album in 2007). Jessica Dobson’s Fender Jazzmaster cut nicely through the mix, and producer extraordinaire Richard Swift was behind the keys. Apparently, they’ve learned much of the back catalog too: “Sleeping Lessons” and “Phantom Limb” were both in this best-of setlist as well, as was a surprising cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.”
The weather could have been worse, but the performance was right up there. I decided that the trade-off was worth it. Now…for a hot cup of cocoa.
Photo Credits © Erik kabik/ erikkabik.com
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.