The Shins @ The Warfield (w/4 free MP3s)

I passed on catching Willie Nelson play his fourth night at The Fillmore and instead decided to see The Shins finish their three-month tour and three-night stand last night at The Warfield. In retrospect, I wish I had seen Willie instead.

Don’t get me wrong. I like The Shins a lot. I’ve been listening to their latest, “Wincing The Night Away,” on a daily basis since it came out. And I was impressed with their previous work, especially the tracks that ended up on the “Garden State” soundtrack.

But when I caught them at the Austin City Limits Festival last year, I wasn’t impressed. I dismissed it, though, as a venue-specific problem. Not many bands sound great when playing outdoors.

Ok, so it wasn’t the venue. Their tour-ending set at the Warfield was good, but not great. Their new material sounded pretty good, and James Mercer’s voice didn’t seem stressed from overuse, the mix tended to be muddled, and some of the older songs came across a bit flat and tinny.

I did enjoy the band’s energy, however. And the audience — a nice mix of people my father’s age, adults in their 20s and 30s, as well as teenagers — was enthusiastic and sang along to the songs they knew.

The band came back with a more energetic encore, opening with Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and a scaled back version of “Caring is Creepy” with harmonica.

The versatile two-piece Viva Voce performed a solid opening set and sat in on several Shins’ songs. I’ll definitely check them out next time they pass through.

Shay Quillen reviewed the first night, which pretty much jibes with my experience. Jim Welte gives The Shins second night a similar treatment at So the third night was no anomaly.

Here is the setlist, with linked MP3s for downloading.

Sleeping Lessons
Girl Inform Me
Mine’s Not a High Horse
Girl Sailor
Phantom Limb
A Comet Appears
Kissing the Lipless
Turn a Square
Saint Simon
New Slang
Gone for Good
Turn on Me
Know Your Onion!

Breathe (Pink Floyd cover)
Caring Is Creepy
Someone I Care About (Modern Lovers cover)
So Says I

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