Two years later, in 2006, my sister Jane and I traveled to Chicago from an August family reunion in Milwaukee to see the Shins play at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. It was heartwarming to see tens of thousands of other fans as crazy about the band as I was, and we were all treated to new songs off their then-upcoming album, "Wincing the Night Away".
The Shins didn't put out another album for several years after that. Band leader James Mercer, partnering with Danger Mouse as Broken Bells, released an excellent self-titled album in 2010, and I assumed that the Shins were no more. But then earlier this year, I saw that the Shins would be the musical guests on the March 11 broadcast of Saturday Night Live. I tuned in and was surprised to see James Mercer surrounded by an all-new band. The distinctive sound was still there, though, and I was impressed enough by the songs they performed to get their new album, "Port of Morrow".
The music that night is a blur for me now, just a continuous stream of songs I know by heart, punctuated by favorites "New Slang", "Sleeping Lessons", and the final encore song, "One by One All Day", which I found myself singing for days afterward.
Go see the Shins if you ever get a chance. As Zach Braff's character Andrew says to Natalie Portman's Sam as he slips the headphones over her head, "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life, I swear."