Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Shins, McCarren Park Pool, 8.23.06

By Charlotte Deaver

After enduring one of the worst opening acts I've seen in a long time, Dinosoar Jr.'s J Mascis, the ever-geeky and practically middle-aged-by-now Shins pumped out a tight, fiery, crowd-pleasing "Kissing the Lipless." Finally! Musical happiness.

The Shins understand how to keep an audience interested. Their melodies are addictive, their arrangements so solid and clean, and their songs are at times practically Lennon-McCartney perfect. It’s no wonder the Pool was jammed.

But The Shins are, by now, consummate professionals. Their ease on stage seemed partly due to the joy of the music, but also came across as a little studied. And the drummer looked positively bored. This is one of the consequences of live shows that are organized around short, sweet, delightful songs, ones we've listened to over and over again, in our cars, on our mp3 players, in our bedrooms and living rooms, ones we know all the words and melodies to. The band is too aware of the effect their songs can create, and too ready to offer the same dish, because they do it so well live. It's as if they've never strayed from their tidy craft. And why should they? Why delve into dense, confusing underbrush when the clean and well-lighted path is so damn pleasing?

I remember going to see Elvis Costello for the first time, years and years ago. He and his band played every song from recordings we all knew bt heart, but with different arrangements, different tempos, even different melodies at times. He didn't play into ready-made expectations, and however disconcerting and even disappointing it was at first, by the end of the show I was blown away. And I will never forget, or stop talking about, seeing Elvis Costello live.

I might, however, not remember much about the The Shins' live performance. But it won't matter. I have all the CDs. I'll still buy the new one, coming out in January (as they announced, and played cuts from Wednesday night). I'll still sing all their songs, know all the words, the melodies, and the harmonies. And I'll still -- always -- love them in my car.

2 Comments:

Blogger euskir said...

There's a story about why Miles Davis didn't allowed himself to play his old songs, and that reason was "because he loved them so much".
Of course The Shins are not Miles Davis, or as you said, Elvis Costello, they can sound good, but giving "a new spirit" to a song, to keep the shine, not only outside, also in the soul, it's a hard task. Astor Piazzolla used to tell, by the time he stops playing for an illness, that he was playing, in live concerts, his fourtheen version of "Adiós Nonino" (one of his most popular songs).

11:44 PM  
Blogger Konflict of Interest said...

Your music criticism makes me happy in the pants.

Link me.

konflictofinterest

1:44 PM  

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