Fans I spoke to on the way into L.A.’s Gibson Amphitheater last Tuesday night were absolutely sure The Shins would blow the doors off.

They were so right!

Washed Out, the opening act, didn’t fare so well — lots of echo, lots of bass and a stuck-in-midtempo set that generally made the audience utter a collective “meh.” I was afraid that The Shins would suffer from the same horrible sound mix, but they came out and immediately got the crowd on its feet and put smiles on every face with a high-energy, ultra-tight set that was often light years ahead of their studio sound. The sound mix was utterly perfect.

The Shins wasted no time on the band’s spare, simple stage by launching immediately into “Kissing The Lipless,” ran quickly through “Caring Is Creepy” and “Simple Song” before stopping to take a breath. The set also included the new single “The Rifle’s Spiral” complete with Rush 2112-style synthesizer sound effects, “It’s Only Life,” and a true show-stopper, “Port of Morrow,” the title track from their latest album.

The musicianship was tight all around, sometimes improving on the studio versions, while James Mercer’s voice rang high and true, like a wounded man-child just on this side of breaking. Marvelous!

The Shins put on a terrific show, and if they’re playing in your neck of the woods, run, don’t walk, to see them.

See a few photos from the show here.

Here’s a video from the encore:


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