One of the things I love about photographing bands from all over the world is that I get see and hear things I normally wouldn’t. This night, I got to cover The Shins.
I had never seen this band perform before, I came away from the night incredibly impressed. Their performance was amazingly clean. By that I mean every note, every beat, the vocals… everything is very deliberate and very precise. This is all thanks to the genius that is James Mercer.
THE ORPHEUM THEATER
Los Angeles, California
July 18, 2022
James Mercer, the front-man, singer, and songwriter for the Grammy-nominated band is the sole remaining member of The Shins. He helped form the band in Albuquerque back in 1996. In 2001, they released their first album, “Oh, Inverted World” and this tour is the 21st “birthday” celebration. In 2002, the band moved to Oregon where they began to push the boundaries of indie and alternative music. With six full-length albums to their credit, The Shins are just getting started.
Mercer is also an actor, he appeared in Matt McCormick’s feature film “Some Days Are Better Than Others.” The Shins music can be heard in dozens of movies and TV shows, such as “Garden State,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Scrubs,” and you can even hear their song “Agua” in The SpongeBob SquarePants movie.
Back to the show; I arrived at the Orpheum early and was able take in the venue’s stunning appearance. The Orpheum is a beautiful and majestic older theatre which opened in 1926. It boasts a list of performers that includes the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, Judy Garland, and Jack Benny.
After a three million dollar renovation in 1989, it remains one of the most visually appealing cinematic and concert venues in the city of Angels.
As I gathered my camera gear and prepared to shoot, there was a buzz at the sound booth and the lighting changed. The folk band Joseph took the stage a sister short. The Oregon group is comprised of three sisters: Natalie Closner Schepman, and twins Allison Closner and Meegan Closner. The trio hit the mainstream in 2016 with their song “White Flag” and their latest release was 2019’s “Good Luck, Kid.”
I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the sisters harmonized; their voices wrapping around each other beautifully. With one guitar (an acoustic switched out for an electric), they filled the theater with wonderful music that had the crowd smiling. They are definitely worth a listen.
The time for the headliner was upon us. Mercer hit the stage, leading his band while dressed in all white, save for a grey vest. The band launched into “Caring is Creepy” followed by “One by One All Day.” The sound was amazing and the lighting was bluish and eerie.
Joining Mercer are Yuuki Matthews (bass), Mark Watrous (guitar), Jon Sortland (drums), and Patti King (keyboards). As they jammed their way through their 21-song set, the sisters from Joseph joined them onstage. Also dressed in white, they looked like backup singers at first, but harmonized along with the rest of the band. It was such a treat as they continued to play all of the crowd’s favorites.
From “Know Your Onion!” to “New Slang” to “Pressed in a Book,” then through “Turn a Square,” “Mine’s Not a High Horse,” and “Kissing the Lipless.” The Shins gave a fantastic performance and the crowd enjoyed every minute of it.
After saying good night, but receiving a raucous cheering from the fans, The Shins returned for an encore consisting of “Simple Song” and “Sleeping Lessons.”
The Shins will tour North American through mid-September, so check out their calendar if you missed them this time.