The Shins (with Faces On Film), Bowery Ballroom [9/25/11]

Posted on: September 27th, 2011 at 10:18 am by

The Shins came, saw, and conquered New York City Sunday evening with some help from opening act Faces On Film.

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[James Mercer]

Boston based Faces On Film, the touring group representing the brainchild of singer/songwriter Mike Fiore, warmed up the extremely energetic crowd with a short but extremely sweet set. The band became a tightly organized groove machine with their bassist leading the way as the bedrock of their tight rhythm section. Fiore, whose beautifully haunting vocals gain him no shortage of comparisons to the Fleet Foxes, took advantage of the warm acoustics of the Bowery Ballroom and turned in a fantastic performance.

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Speaking candidly to the audience, Mike Fiore said “I’d like to borrow a concept from R. Kelly called ‘real talk’ for a second and say that it’s been my dream to play at the Bowery ballroom since I was 18 years old.” The crowd was extremely receptive to the fresh, dreamy sound of Faces On Film, but Fiore took some major jeers when he said he was from Boston. The charismatic frontman took it in stride. By the end of the set he got perhaps the biggest cheers of the night by playing a solo version of “Bride” without the backing of the band. The absolute highlight of the set was the absolutely epic closing song “Friends With Both Arms” from their debut album The Troubles. A song perfectly constructed to become an arena anthem, it allowed Faces On Film to leave one last  impression on the already-impressed crowd.

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The Shins, or at least the current iteration of the band following leader James Mercer’s dismissal of the other members, hit the stage to deafening applause. Having been on hiatus from touring for a few years, the local faithful had been waiting quite a while to see the indie heavyweights. Mercer started up the first chords of “Caring Is Creepy” and all was forgotten. The new touring lineup, featuring guitarist Jessica Dobson, proved their mettle as they absolutely crushed the familiar tunes written by their predecessors. Playing the familiar favorites louder, heavier, and with some added vocal harmonies, all doubt of the abilities of the new lineup was cast off.

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Mercer and company breezed through the classics, opening the show with “Caring Is Creepy,” “Australia,” “Mine’s Not A High Horse,” “Pam Berry” and “Phanton Limb” in quick succession. The whole thing quickly turned into a huge sing-along, with stage crew sporadically turning the lights on over the crowd to cue them into singing.

As anticipated, the band did play some of the new material written for the much anticipated fourth album, set for release sometime in 2012. Two as-yet-untitled tracks made the cut. One was absolutely killer, adeptly highlighting Dobson’s guitar shredding skills. If she ends up a permanent member, we hope there’s more where that came from. Feeding off of the wildly energetic crowd, The Shins saved the best for second half of the show and played a deliciously funky “Sea Legs” as well as an absolutely chilling version of “New Slang.”  As Natalie Portman’s character quips to Zach Braff in Garden State: “You gotta hear this one song – it’ll change your life; I swear.”

The epic three song encore of psychedelia featured covers of “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie & “Breathe” by Pink Floyd as well as their own “Sleeping Lessons.”

Setlist:

Caring is Creepy
Australia
Mine’s Not A High Horse
Pam Berry
Phantom Limb
New Untitled Song
Saint Simon
Girl On The Wing
Know Your Onion
Shpagnum Esplanade
Kissing The Lipless
Sea Legs
So Says I
New Song – “Son Of A Gun”
New Slang
Girl Inform Me
One By One All Day

Ashes To Ashes (David Bowie Cover)
Breathe (Pink Floyd Cover)
Sleeping Lessons

-Reporting and photos by Benjamin Tocker

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