The house lights kicked off cueing the dreamy flowers on stage to create the illusion of something out of the dream sequence in Dumbo–instead of pink fluffy blossoms, the stage was consumed by black-lit, hallucinogenic flora. The words “The Shins” glowing green on the bass drum in a spooky melting font. Dark alien figures descended on the stage, and kicked it into gear with “Caring is Creepy” under low stage lighting. Changing throughout, three songs in the lighting revealed a wicked melting, psychedelic skull as the band’s backdrop.
For their first time in Montana, The Shins were working with a comparatively new lineup. In fact, the release of Heartworms represents a few key changes for the ensemble. Firstly, the lineup has shifted; Secondly, front-man and founder, James Mercer, released the most recent album on his own label, Aural Apothecary. (Pitchfork)
Genuinely appearing shocked by the size of the crowd, Mercer complimented the town and mentioned the fact that many moons ago, his father attended the University of Montana; even attending “A Hard Day’s Night” in The Wilma back in the day. Honored to be playing the venue, Mercer stated that the band would try their best “to be cool like The Beatles” on the next track.
The real Montana moment came when Mercer, bouncing around the stage in excitement, said he “could see why (his) dad wanted to go to school here.” The followup question to “Where do you live,” is always “What’s even in Montana?” and the amount of things that could be said are endless. James Mercer and crew are now party to the secret of “The Last Best Place.”
Most bands will complement the audience, caressing the onlookers’ loyalty to the band by calling them the best audience; thus, the initial complement was almost tongue and cheek. Leave it to Missoula, singing along, dancing with the energy one can only have in the pure mountain air, to effectuate such a genuine grin from Mercer and obvious audience-appreciation from the band.
Overall, the performance was a good mix of old and new material and marvelous musicianship, moved by the mighty Missoula soul. Fortunately, with lots of incredible occasions to enjoy live music coming up, the good times don’t have to end! See the full concert schedule here.
Stepping straight out of a 70s, lo-fi, surf-pop daydream, Tennis, guided by Alaina Moore (keys and vocals) and Patrick Riley (guitar and bass), may have been underestimated by some due to their “opener” status. Alaina’s ethereal voice sailed over each track, simply entrancing the audience with their easy-going, highly-stylized tonality.
A good turn out and general appreciation, considering the early hour, could be attributed to the mark the group made after opening for Shakey Graves on his 2015 “Die Hard” Tour.
Photo Gallery: Shakey Graves, Tennis at The Wilma (Neubauer Media)
With simple stage lighting, groovy looking onstage monitors, and big flowers (later to be used by the Shins), the group nailed the Moonrise-Kingdom 1970s aesthetic to a T. The group formed as a husband-and-wife-duo, “drawing on the beautifully rendered tunes that emerged between pop’s Wall of Sound era and the eruption of punk’s unkempt energies, give or take a few years.” (Pitchfork)