What happens when a band’s catalog spans two decades? You can’t hear all of its fan favorites when they make a tour stop in town. That’s what happened on June 23 at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan, where indie rockers The Shins played a well-rounded set list of new and old material, while leaving out “Dead Alive” and few other gems from their latest Heartworms release.
The six-man band performed in front of a psychedelic underwater skull, and frontman James Mercer looked like he was enjoying himself—despite a full stomach. Halfway through the set, Mercer mentioned that his mom and sister, in the crowd from Albuquerque, had joined him for dinner at P.F. Chang’s. “I had my last bite of kung pow chicken an hour ago,” Mercer said, adding that he topped his meal off with some whiskey in the green room before taking the stage. “And I feel good.”
Photos by Erik Kabik
Taking up half of the room, the crowd sang along to opener “Caring Is Creepy” and “Australia” right from the start. New Shins songs such as “Painting A Hole” brought more energy, while old songs (with the exception of “Kissing the Lipless”) were more sentimental.
That script was flipped for the encore, which was the highlight of the show. Mercer played acoustic guitar for “The Fear” while three violinists played to his right, before he jumped into “New Slang,” possibly the most famous Shins track. The show ended with a spirited performance of “Sleeping Lessons” with a little dose of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”. The mix of songs from the band’s albums brought a mix of energy, satisfying both those nostalgic for old tunes and those purely wanting to dance along.