The Shins / Faces on Film

Phoenix, Toronto ON September 22

> > Sep 23 2011

The Shins / Faces on Film - Phoenix, Toronto ON September 22
By Stephen CarlickIf the audience had closed its eyes, they might have mistaken Boston quintet Faces on Film for the Shins themselves; their nimble, quirky take on indie rock was a dead ringer for the headliners. They can take that as a compliment, provided that they continue to grow. The crowd gave the youngsters healthy applause, even after a solo performance by the band's singer was nearly drowned out by pre-headliner audience chatter. The funny thing is, except the lack of James Mercer as a frontman, the band were about as close to being "the Shins" as the headliners were.

As the actual Shins took the Phoenix stage, it was immediately apparent that the group are James Mercer's solo conduit now, as his new backing band includes none of the members that helped write their three records. Mercer and co. seemed to be under-rehearsed and shaky from the get-go, as they performed a fizzling "Caring Is Creepy" to a very forgiving audience. Early jitters continued through "Australia," and Mercer decided to forgo the upper register of his vocals in "Mine's Not a High Horse."

Most of the band's best songs of the night were their mid-tempo ballads: "Phantom Limb" came across well, as did "Saint Simon." But these are the Shins' simplest songs, and the mark of a great live band comes from their ability to bring life to the challenging parts of their catalogue, such as the excellent "Kissing the Lipless," whose performance lacked the trademark snappiness of the recorded version.

The Shins warmed up by the end -- "Sea Legs," "So Says I" and an encore performance of "Sleeping Lessons" were highlights, and they played some likable new songs -- but unshakeable was the feeling that without the departed Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval, the Shins just aren't the Shins. Gone are the tight harmonies and witty stage banter that marked the group's early shows. In their place was Mercer, singing alone, promising a new album "really soon!" Mercer fans might be excited, but what about Shins fans?
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And all night Steven was wondering who he was having that text dialogue with...
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That's where reviewers take their notes dumb-dumb. ^^^^^
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Who is Steven?
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Kind of agree with this review. I have never seen The Shins live, so I can't compare to previous shows, but I have been following them for at least 7 years (when Garden State came out) I had very high hopes for this band. I can honestly say that their two most recent albums are my most played albums from start to finish in my music library. And while the show was "good", it was "amazing." They lacked cohesiveness, and energy. I watched as the awkward girl (who looked about 12 years old) playing guitar kept missing her lyrics (or maybe she forgot them?). And it's true that it really was Mercer's show, not the Shins. It felt oddly forced. When they closed with Pink Floyd, I actually felt sorry for the audience - more than 80% of them were too young to even recognize it. I love Pink Floyd, but it didn't fit. Even a Broken Bells track would have bee more appropriate. Still an awesome night, still love this band, and can't wait for the new album.
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having seen them a bunch of times, although competent, they have never been a great live act. Mercer writes some sublime pop songs and I would bet he prefers spending his time in the studio.
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The show was nothing special in the end. It felt like we were just "sorta" watching The Shins. Not to mention, it sounds like they didn't bring their own audio person? Maybe it's the venue but the sound was really off. It was very obvious that we were watching a bunch of new people fumbling around on stage to a lot of forgiving fans.
Probably the best part of the night was the Pink Floyd tribute at the end of the night because it wasn't a Shins song. Ouch!
No stage presence really, the lighting was awkward because it only highlighted him, making the huge gap between him and his bandmates even more obvious.
So basically I think I would have enjoyed myself more if somebody properly EQ-ed the speakers, put a record player on stage, and played that instead.
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I enjoy a good critical review. Most concert-goers are waaaaaayyyyy to forgiving of acts. These bands are professional musicians. They should be able to bring the noise! A lot of bands are merely okay.
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