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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, September 22

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Concert Mon Feb 12 2007

Concert Review: The Shins, Viva Voce @ Congress Theater, 2/10

Saturday night was the kind of cold that shook you to the very bone. Good thing The Shins brought the perfect thaw: an hour of burning pop brilliance. Standing in the massive line that snaked outside the Congress waiting to get into the sold out venue, I kept hoping the hype I had heard about this tour was for real. The usual live reviews of The Shins I had read were all about how subdued, boring, and similar to their recordings their sets often were. But a few new blurbs promised an expanded Shins line-up for the Wincing the Night Away tour as well as an improved dynamic sound that was bigger than anything they had done before. By the time I got through the packed lobby and past the absurdly priced beers, I was ready to see if James Mercer & company could live up to my expectations.

But another band from Portland made The Shins payoff wait.

Kevin and Anita Robinson (the former of whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last month here), who play under the moniker Viva Voce, produced an epic rock sound that, surprising for a two-piece, filled up the spacious ceiling of the Congress. To the delight of the audience, Anita burned a few solos into the brains of The Shins faithful while Kevin angrily pounded his kit. While they played a few of their daintier indie hits, closer "We Do Not Fuck Around" off of last year's under-played Get Yr Blood Sucked Out seemed the strongest, with Kevin moving easily from keyboard to drum kit and Anita taking the double-necked guitar to town to end their set.

After an extended break, the lights went down and the familiar synth-line of Wincing the Night Away opener "Sleeping Lessons" rolled out over the crowd as The Shins took the stage. With dramatic import, Mercer sung the opening verse coyly from a darkened stage until the song exploded with rock abandon, a dynamic highlighted by the huge curtain which fell behind the band to reveal a massive background displaying the Wincing cover art. Sure, it was a hokey rock stunt. But man it rocked - and this proves it. The Shins played the first four tracks off of Wincing straight, turning in a giddy rendition of "Phantom Limb." From this new record plug, Mercer turned the band to several tracks from Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow, with "Kissing the Lipless" getting the best audience sing-a-long response and "Saint Simon" dazzling with spot-on three-part harmonies from Mercer, guitarist Dave Hernandez, and bassist Marty Crandall. Postmodern anthem "New Slang" and introspective Wincing closer "A Comet Appears" suffered from being too quiet for the Congress and the latter featured an awkward opening as Mercer's mic did not come on until halfway through the first verse. Their stage banter was also pretty weak (at one point Crandall claimed that he could cut people with his pocketknife "like Wolverine") and overall the long pauses for tuning and talking in between songs made the crowd a bit restless. The encore more than made up for the band's onstage quirks, though, as high energy closer "So Says I" brought the house down, as captured briefly here. While not amazing, Saturday night's performance was close, offering a solid musical performance evidenced by a group finally transferrring the brilliance found in their recordings to their live show.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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