April 15th, 2012, 6:56 pm · · posted by GUEST
When the Shins’ James Mercer announced how happy he was to play Coachella for the first time, I really thought he was joking. After all, his band was the apple of the collective indie eye at the dawn of the new millennium. I suppose due to the fact that they’d been rumored to play the festival since its inception, I simply figured they’d played before (and I duly figured that I’d likely seen them on the Polo Field before).
The current incarnation of the Shins is Mercer’s most road-ready outfit yet-where the band as a quartet previously sounded on the hollow side when performing live, this five-piece (plus two backup singers on a couple songs) sounded much fuller on the main stage on Saturday night. (It’s also worth mentioning that the sound on the main stage is vastly improved over last year, when a number of acts simply needed to be turned up.)
Mercer offered Coachellans a solid set of Shins favorites (“New Slang,” “Phantom Limb”), cuts from the band’s 2012 release, Port of Morrow (“Simple Song,” “Bait and Switch”) and even an extremely faithful take on Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” featuring organ and lap steel. A guy standing next to me was crazy impressed with the last, claiming that if he “turned around, he wouldn’t know it wasn’t Pink Floyd.” While I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, it was a fairly inspired choice.
“Thank you,” Mercer offered after the set-closing “Sleeping Lessons,” “and see you next week!” Fitting that after playing exactly zero Coachellas in the past decade, he now gets to play two in one week.
By Kevin Flinn for The Orange County Register.