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Arts and Entertainment

The Shins @ The Hollywood Palladium 5/10/09

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Albuquerque-bred and Portland-based rockers The Shins played to an enthralled crowd Sunday night at the historic Hollywood Palladium. Although their last album is nearly two-years behind them, the boys in the band proved that they are intent on building on their quirky alternative rock legacy and moving their sound ever-forward, as the evening's nearly 2-hour set included some new songs likely to appear on a future release.

In a performance full of mostly hits, the band corralled the audience's energy from the moment they took the stage and let fly with the opening notes of "Australia" from Wincing the Night Away, followed quickly by the mini-song "Pam Berry" as an intro to their hit "Phantom Limb." In the lull following "Saint Simon" someone called out "Red Rabbits," which, as the keyboardist remarked, was one of the rare times a shouted request was precisely what was on deck next.

The Shins moved fairly seamlessly from their older material to the newer selections, and only really dropped the ball when they followed up a funkified take on "Sea Legs," with a low-energy tune ("Sphagnum") that inspired most in the crowd to chat with each other, suck face, or check their cellphones. They soon worked their way back into the fans' good graces by offering up a cover of the Beach Boys' "Girl Don't Tell Me" and managing to delight with an as-yet unreleased song frontman James Mercer said they were calling "Double Bubble."

Throughout the show, Mercer et al were in top form, sounding uncannily like their album selves, which can so often be satisfying in opposition to bands who are so painfully overproduced that their live shows can't help but disappoint. What most certainly did not disappoint was the closing song of the set, "Sleeping Lessons," which teased the crowd with its gentler opening segment, then amped it up one thousand percent to its finish in a frenzy even more pronounced than on the album, and repeated for measure live with much flourish and delight.

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The Shins' new song, "Double Bubble."

It was a solid show overall, besides the omission of perhaps a beloved song or two in favor of some less engaging ones and an unremarkable cover of Neil Young's "Helpless," during the encore that had the many pot smokers in the room raising their lighters into the air rather than to spark their joint, if only temporarily. Opting to push it one further, The Shins ended not with "New Slang," but another song less familiar to these ears; it was a weak ending to an otherwise strong gig. At the very least, it's made this Shins fan ready for some fresh tunes and a future visit to Los Angeles from the band.