A band like the Shins, hailing from New Mexico and focused on music that is more steeped in fragile melodies and clever vocals, doesn’t have a huge likelihood of success in today’s ClearChannel and MTV dominated world. But every once in the bluest moon, a band bubbles up through the zines, blogs and clubs of the indie underground and is carried into a special spotlight. One where your records sell a few hundred thousand copies and where you can tour big clubs and fill them even on weeknights, like the Shins sold out Tuesday night show at the Warfield in San Francisco.
Remember – these are a bunch of thrift shop hipsters who play intelligent graduate school pop-rock, not dolled-up teenagers in a non-descript boy band packaged up and shipped off to host Total Request Live. To some degree their recorded music rips pages from the mid-60’s Beatles which was never really performed live, onstage before thousands of steadily head-bobbing fans, the band proved that they can really play. From the string of endless hits on their first two full length records – infused with more creativity than most much older more rock oriented bands, to the rawkus improvisational jams that seemed crafted specifically for a post-hippie San Francisco audience, The Shins were simply on.
In a world where much of the music you hear is pre-programmed and many of the films that you see are filled with computer generated images, it is refreshing to see music played by musicians who are still having fun. There is a kind of satisfaction that you feel to see a band like this – music zealots, and reluctant rock stars, who have earned the chance to make a decent living as musicians on their own terms. I hope they can mainatin this trajectory for many many years.