THE SHINS, BLACKBIRD, AUG. 27
OK, so the super-secret Shins show wasn't so secret after all. But man, oh man was it a show. During the Blackbird's fourth-to-last night, the recent Portland arrivals showed this town what world-class songwriting sounds like. After solid sets from E*rock and the All Girl Summer Fun Band, the Shins took the stage to cheers from the packed and sweaty crowd. Starting out with a few songs from 2001's wonderfully hazy Oh Inverted World (Sub Pop), the band spared little time in revealing Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop), set to be released Oct. 21. The new stuff is a little edgier, less baroque pop and more stripped-down rock. "Kissing the Lipless," the lead-off track from the new album, was a hit with the crowd. The anthemic chorus of the song reveals a new urgency in the music, shouting where the old songs might sigh and get wistful, and upping the tempo a bit. If the album is half as good as the live version, Portland will likely have a new favorite band. Cheers, Shins, you wear it well.
MUM, BERBATI'S PAN, AUG. 27
Apparently folks at Berbati's just don't listen. When a heckler shouted down noise experimentalists Animal Collective during their opening set for Múm at the downtown club, front-row concertgoers held their breath and hoped the rant was a one-off. But as the headlining Icelandic laptop-popsters unfolded their set of new material, the drone of moronic mingling became impossible to ignore. The text-messaging cell-phone nuts were the last straw: Folks who paid the 12 bucks to actually hear the performances fled the scene and put in a tiny prayer for the bands' forgiveness and a return visit to a more safe and sound Rose City.
THE DANDY WARHOLS, ROSELAND THEATER, AUG. 28
Anybody attending the jam-packed "Evening with the Dandy Warhols" shouldn't have been surprised by the self-indulgent nature of the show. This was, after all, a three-hour show from a band whose entire body of work is barely that long. All in all, there were about 40 minutes of good pop mixed in with two--yawn--hours of drugged-out noodling and shoegazing sonics. Hiss & Vinegar took this time to get to know the crowd and concentrate on alcohol consumption, pausing when the Dandys tapped into their pop sensibilities, tearing into "Godless" or slinking their way through their latest's greatest, "Last High." The biggest surprise of the night, though, was the poor sound. The overwhelming bassy hum of the synth tended to drown out Courtney Taylor-Taylor's low and lusty vocals. Even when there was no bass line, it sounded as though the lead man had swallowed the mic whole. Hiss & Vinegar's suggestion for the next "evening": Leave the mic alone, swallow the pride.