Shins show scope of indie rock catalog -
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James Mercer of The Shins performs at Stir Cove.(ERIN DUERR/WORLD-HERALD NEWS SERVICE)


Shins show scope of indie rock catalog
By Kevin Coffey

COUNCIL BLUFFS — What started out as a cold, rainy evening transitioned into sunshine and a heated-up crowd as The Shins played to its fan base with songs such as “New Slang” and “Port of Morrow.”

The 2,750-capacity Stir Cove was quite full Thursday night for The Shins' first show in the area in years.


Kissing the Lipless
Caring is Creepy
Simple Song
Bait and Switch
So Says I
Know Your Onion!
Phantom Limb
Rifle's Spiral
Saint Simon
No Way Down
Sphagnum Esplanade
Mine's Not a High Horse
It's Only Life
New Slang
Sleeping Lessons
Port of Morrow
One By One All Day

During the set of opening band The Antlers, the rain clouds began to clear, but the crowd was still sparse. As Blind Pilot took the stage, it filled out, and by the time The Shins came on, the venue was packed.

“Thank you so much,” said James Mercer, frontman of The Shins, after a few songs.

“I thought everyone was gonna be scared away by the weather, but not you folks. Good, good, good. We're from the Northwest, so we know how to deal with some weather.”

The indie rock band picked from old songs and new tunes from its recently released album, “Port of Morrow,” for its 90-minute set. Some concertgoers sat and sipped beers while others crammed into the space in front of the stage and danced.

The Shins can be reserved sometimes, but the band's latest lineup — Mercer, Joe Plummer, Jessica Dobson, Yuuki Matthews and Richard Swift — added a rock element and new depth to the band's songs.

Swift added tiny touches on keys and Dobson some harmonies on vocals that changed the feel of certain songs. “Phantom Limb,” for example, felt updated with a slightly different drum rhythm, organ melodies and an added guitar part.

“So Says I” gave the night a fun, rocking vibe and also had many dancing on the venue's lawn.

As the band played in front of a backdrop plastered with the album art from the new record, The Shins played brand new tunes such as “Simple Song” as well as older songs such as “Know Your Onion!” from its debut album.

As usual, Mercer's vocals were serene. There was something peaceful about them like the still surface of a calm lake.

During and after the show, I heard from many fans who were pleased with the show, especially because it contained a wide variety of material from the band's entire catalog.

Though the old stuff was great, I did enjoy a lot of songs from “Port of Morrow” including “The Rifle's Spiral,” “Bait and Switch” and “September,” which Mercer performed solo.

Though I gave the album two stars out of four, I wish I could give it one more. It has grown on me since it was released in March.

When the band launched into “New Slang,” a song that Natalie Portman's character in “Garden State” told us would change our lives, the audience's ears collectively perked up.

Cellphones came out to record the song, fans sang along with the “ooo-aaa-ooo” chorus, and everyone cheered wildly.

Personally, I have a close affinity for “New Slang,” and it appears I'm not alone.

The band finished the set with an encore of “September,” “Port of Morrow” and “One by One All Day.”

The last track — a psychedelic, crashing closeout full of noise — showed that the band may be known for its jangly, lightly rocking songs, but it's not afraid to rock it out when need be.

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Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

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