NEARLY MISERABLY CROWDED (but nearly awe-inspiring fun)
As a clear sign that they've gotten too mainstream, I attended the 2nd sold out Shins show at The Black Cat this evening. I'm here to witness to you that I wasn't alone. Gina B. and I arrived just after 8:30 and walked into the downstairs bar area. Neither of us having been to The Black Cat before, we didn't see where the music was going to be straight away. Neither did we want to ask and give away more obviously that this was our first time. But, we're fairly smart chicks, so we eventually pinned down the staircase that would take us to the checkered DC headquarters for hipsters.
We sat squarely down on the right side elevated section (stage left) and chatted through the first one man band. I didn't catch his name, and he wasn't bad but he didn't blow me away either. The second band had us on our feet and fighting for concert position. Gina called it when she said they had a "Cure" thing going on.
Finally, The Shins took the stage. They played two tunes from Chutes Too Narrow and then two from their previous record, which I hadn't heard yet. The lead singer hangs on stage left with a beard and an acoustic guitar. The keyboardist/bassist/guitarist is responsible for all between-song banter and jumping up and down, and is situated at center stage. The bassist, guitarist, and backup singer with a beer is at stage right, with drummer in the middle behind the three guys up front. The keyboardist and bass player are both utterly adorable. I was constantly nervous that the lead singer's voice would crack b/c the tunes all use high notes, but they just came soaring out of him as well as on the record.
Puzzled by their choice of playing the Black Cat instead of the 9:30, which could accommodate the crowd much better, a nearby intern for Spin posited that it was probably because Dave Grohl owns the Black Cat and they were just paying homage to a great SubPop artist of yore. That's a much prettier tale than the one I was coming up with, involving years of rejection and bitterness. But they seem like pretty happy guys, so I'm going with Ms. Spin.
All in all, I didn't quite hear colors, but the show wasn't what I expected at all, come to think of it. It was better in many ways and not as good in others. I didn't have any huge epiphanies that I was listening to an historical performance like I have on a precious few occassions before, but I did consistently think I was watching 4 guys who love what they're doing and doing it really honestly and really well.
What the Post says
Washington Post's review of Tuesday night's show... (you'll have to scroll down a bit)