Jack White, The Shins, Metric, and Of Monsters and Men
Live 105's Not So Silent Night
Friday, Dec. 7, 2012
Better than: Wearing a Santa costume in public.
Let's be grateful that there's still a guitar-wielding weirdo named Jack White around to headline things like Live 105's Not So Silent Night. Without him, the wearying procession of radio-friendly rock bands playing in a giant concrete cylinder might have driven unsuspecting thousands into a state of complete catatonia. Last night, the four of seven sets we caught were only mostly dull until the last hour.
Granted, it wasn't Metric's fault that their gear got stuck in Miami, leaving singer Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw to do what they could with an acoustic guitar, piano, and Haines' silvery croon. They tried to make the best of the folk apparatus, covering Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and playing what sounded like campfire-cover versions of songs like "Synthetica," "Artificial Nocturne," and "Youth Without Youth." But acoustic guitars and pianos and pretty vocals don't fill arenas so well alone, and by the time Metric left, the crowd's cheering sounded as much out of relief as gratitude.
Any anticipation was short-lived: The Shins followed half an hour later, and after a strong opening salvo, sent the snoozy-looking fans inside Oracle back to twiddling with their phones and talking loudly to one another. It's pretty bad when the chatter of people in the seats blocks out the electric rock band. (If the unfunny moping of the Shins of 2012 can even really be called rock.) "Simple Song" got big cheers, and "New Slang" shut everyone up with its familiar gorgeousness. (Thanks, Garden State!) But man, we'd love it if James Mercer put that innate tunefulness to work on an album of uptempo rockers.
Of the early sets, the highlight was actually Of Monsters and Men, who sound like the exact halfway point between Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons. They looked more excited than anyone to be there, and their enthusiasm got more seat-area fans on on their feet than most of the acts that followed. "Little Talks" may be by-the-numbers inspiro-rock, all big chants of "Hey!" and now-cliched trumpets and third-grade chord changes, but at least it did what it was supposed to do.