As the last standing OG member of The Shins, James Mercer threw a birthday bash for Oh, Inverted World as it passed the threshold for legal imbibement. (Yes, that’s a word. I looked it up. I promise never to use it again.) It’s hard to believe that it’s twenty-one years old now and it’s got some good company; The White Stripes’ breakout White Blood Cells came out that year, as did the debut records from Gorillaz, The National and The Strokes. All these years later, the songs still hold up. “New Slang” was the first song to set the hook for me, especially the video with knowing nods to important underground records; I counted six references in the first forty seconds). Opener Joseph was on hand to lend some key background vocals, leading to a very sublime moment of the show.
And that kinda describes the rest of the show; I wouldn’t say ‘wispy’ is the proper descriptor but the folk-based song structures have a pretty wide appeal and this is something your parents wouldn’t object to if you put it on for a drive down to the shoreline. “Pressed In A Book” raised the pulse a bit and featured some inspired drumming to move the song along at a brisker pace. Mercer also dropped a bit of an homage as “That Summer Feeling” was played when they took the Roadrunner stage; well played James – both that sly reference and your set. Bonus points for the stage backdrop and pale blue and white stage clothing to perfectly complement the record’s sleeve artwork.
Joseph consist of three sisters who all sing, one who plays guitar, and two who are twins. Natalie was correct when she said it wasn’t too hard to figure out who was the non-twin. And neither twin is called Joseph, either; their namesake was inspired by the Oregon town and their grandpa. With just three singers and a guitar, they created a mesmerizing mix for a very appreciated crowd, one of the more vocal ones I’ve seen for an opening act in a while. The magic of siblings’ voices blending as one was mentioned in the excellent Bee Gees documentary and the Closner sisters demonstrated that quite effectively. The songs have a way of taking their time but gradually building along the way, like a friend telling a good story. Humor was also present, as Meegan related that some of their early shows were just of Natalie and Allison. She was ready to hit the road for the tour but her appendix decided against that and wanted to stay home. I’m glad we got all three tonight!
Primarily based in Boston, Massachusetts, Tim Bugbee is no stranger to traveling throughout the country or overseas to capture the best live music photos.