BERKELEY — Who knew that when Natalie Portman swore The Shins would “change your life,” her words would still ring true years later? The Shins not only became the anthem for 2004 film Garden State, but also the anthem for indie lovers.
The Albuquerque band performed in the Bay Area last night for the first time since 2012, selling out the Greek Theatre. For many fans, the show marked years of waiting to see one of their favorite bands finally pay off.
The night kicked off with Oh, Inverted World classic, “Caring is Creepy.” Fans cheered to the familiar whistles that start the song as the band broke into their parts one-by-one—the anticipation of the build-up teasing the glorious night in store. Next up was “Australia,” an infectiously upbeat tune that instantly had the crowd dancing.
“We feel you guys up here,” said guitarist Mark Watrous in response to the high energy.
“We fucking feel it!” jumped (literally) in frontman James Mercer.
The Shins followed with recent tunes like “Name For You” off Heartworms, and “Mildenhall,” in which Mercer shows off some country twang. Being no strangers to new sounds, they also played surprise renditions of older songs. Some examples include a slowed, melancholy version of “Gone For Good” and a dreampop take on “Phantom Limb.”
Mercer called the next phase of the evening the “rock block,” which consisted of “Saint Simon,” “Painting a Hole” and a cover of The Outfield’s “Your Love.” The ‘80s throwback was such a hit that even people in the amphitheater seats stood up to rock out.
As the evening started to wind down, The Shins brought out the song that started it all for many: “New Slang.” Collectively, fans held up their cell phones and lighters and gave The Greek a starlit glow. The band took the track slow, making the already gloomy lyrics sound more poignant than ever.
“We love you guys,” Mercer called out before the show’s last stretch. Hearts full, the audience cheered back.
Finally, The Shins closed the night with “Sleeping Lessons” mixed in with a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.”
Taking the stage beforehand were Austin-based art rockers Spoon and local indie group Day Wave. Spoon had an electrifying sound that would occasionally dip into ambient interludes. They pulled off the juxtaposition beautifully, reaffirmed by constant roars from the crowd.
Taking on a completely different sound, Day Wave opened the show with a fun, surf-pop style that easily got everyone into the groove.