The Shins celebrates 21 years since first album in St. Louis

The Shins celebrated the 21st anniversary of their debut album Oh, Inverted World at The Factory in St. Louis. Accompanied by folk-country trio Joseph, The Shins spent the night reminding fans of the staying power of their body of work.

Joseph started the show off beautifully. The band is composed of three sisters, all singing while one plays guitar. The three sisters (a set of twins and one older) harmonize with each other beautifully as they belt out heartfelt jams that had the crowd swaying. After a few of their original songs they went into a cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” that lit the venue up and convinced the room full of fans to sing along.

Following Joseph were The Shins.

As James Mercer and the rest of the band took the stage a hush fell over the crowd. The crowd by the way is made up of mostly millennial and older fans. Most of the people here have been diehard fans ever since The Shins released “Oh, Inverted World” in 2001. Since then, they have recorded and toured extensively, as well as explored side projects, however their original works and Mercer’s falsetto execution remain as strong as ever.

As the show continued and fans sang along with all their old favorites, a sort of nostalgic sadness seemed to creep into the otherwise upbeat rhythm of the set. Maybe everyone was thinking back to what they were doing 21 years ago when this music was first released. Lamenting their youth and perhaps a simpler time period where things made more sense before smart phones and TikTok. Maybe it was just a side effect of the mournful nature of a lot of the band’s music.

As the show carried on, I was hit with a very similar feeling as I had the last time I saw James Mercer perform. That was back at Bonnaroo, in 2014, at a Broken Bells show (one of Mercer’s side projects, that he created with producer Danger Mouse). Both bands find an elegant way to walk the line between hopeful and outright depressing. Bridging that gap can often be a challenge but The Shins have proved time and time again that they can do so effortlessly.

After an extensive set, featuring accompaniment from the lovely ladies of Joseph, The Shins end their show with their 2007 hit “Sleeping Lessons”, which is an angsty jam that contradicts its own name by encouraging listeners to wake up and stop accepting things that make you uncomfortable. The final words of the song rang through the venue as the crowd went crazy. “You’re not obliged to swallow anything you despise” is the parting wisdom that Mercer leaves his fans, which seemed somehow fitting for the current state of the world, even though the song is 15 years old. All in all, The Shins are an amazing band which has stood the test of time and will certainly continue to do so as long as they desire. If they ever play in your neck of the woods do not miss it!

Photography by Sean Rider

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