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The Shins Dazzle the Night Away

Lights twinkled as the dreamy intro of “Sleeping Lessons” bewitched the crowd. Enter the Shins, a band that, despite impressive record sales as of late, walked humbly onto the Congress stage. They gushed their way through Wincing the Night Away‘s first four tracks, frontman James Mercer unleashing a punk snarl on the opener’s line, “off with his head.” Eric Johnson tapped his toes to his tambourine while Marty Crandall swayed at his keyboard. Embracing a rock edge on their finessed tunes, they swirled out mild distortion, which was outshone by the audience’s earnest oohs, ahhs, and la la las.

Mercer, overcome by his band’s reception, looked across nearly 3,000 showgoers and chuckled. “This place is pretty damn big,” he said. “Damn, I’m glad you’re on our side.” Before stepping back into the shadows, the singer spun around, held up his glass and cracked a wince-free smile. ANDREA HART / PHOTOS BY KAREN CHAN

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