The Shins played DAR Constitution Hall last night, performing to a sold out, but rather tame, crowd of DC hipsters.
Aptly opening with "Sleeping Lessons," the first track off their most recent album, Wincing the Night Away, the band tried to get the audience into the show early. Since the venue is an all-seater, the crowd had to be implored to stand and get into the groove. This led to the awkwardness of some sections standing, some sitting, and some complaining either way. One positive result of this was clearly hearing the band, especially singer James Mercer's voice, in the better-than-advertised acoustics of Constitution Hall.
After all was said and done, the Shins played 18 songs (a 70-minute, 16 song set and then a two song encore). The setlist mostly comprised of their two most recent albums, Wincing the Night Away and Chutes Too Narrow. They did sneak in earlier tracks "Caring is Creepy," "Know Your Onion!," and "New Slang."
Although the performance made me more appreciative of the new album, the real highlights of the show were almost exclusively songs from their second album, Chutes Too Narrow. The Shins nailed a more aggressive version of "Saint Simon" and "Turn a Square" pleased the crowd more than any other.
It seems the band has two strengths in their live show. First, getting into the zone in some songs and rocking out, as evident in their cover of Modern Lover's "Someone I Care About." The other is the thought-provoking lyrics in slower songs, as heard in "A Comet Appears," the Wincing closer.
The between song banter was mostly filled with references to American history, you know, because nothing ever happens in DC unrelated to government/history/politics. Even still, the band missed so many puns, (Daughters of the American RevoluSHIN, ConstituSHIN Hall, WaSHINgton, D.C.) that I don't think I'll ever forgive them.
Probably wouldn't matter anyway, since they'd be lost on the emoSHINless crowd.
01. Sleeping Lessons
03. Pam Berry/Phantom Limb
04. Kissing the Lipless
05. Mine's Not a High Horse
06. Girl Inform Me
07. Girl on the Wing
08. New Slang
09. Saint Simon
11. Turn a Square
12. Gone for Good
13. A Comet Appears
14. Turn on Me
15. Know Your Onion!
16. Caring is Creepy
17. Someone I Care About (Modern Lovers Cover)
18. So Says I
Thanks to DCist.com for helping me finish the setlist.