BEING THERE: Broken Bells @ The Trocadero


Broken Bells — the collaborative side-project of Shins main man James Mercer and producer/DJ Brian Burton, AKA Danger Mouse — thrilled an overflowing standing room only crowd at the Trocadero last night with an 18-song set of their indie-psych-electronica hybrid. Mercer and Burton arrived on stage dressed in dark business suits and took up positions behind two white Star Trek-like pulpits, embedded with all manner of vintage synths and assorted retro-futuristic keyboard gadgetry, situated on opposite sides of the stage. Behind them were two risers with a drummer on one and a guitarist on the other. Between then was a short metallic dome that projected swirling patterns of light and color and groovy/cosmic eye candy on a half-moon-shaped screen behind them. They set the bar high for their set early with the impressive slow building opener “Perfect World,” the lead-off track from their excellent new album After The Disco. The drums swelled as the song built to a peak and then Mercer strapped on an electric guitar and jammed out a long stinging solo that drove the song to its logical conclusion. Soon after came the title track from the new album, which featured a hypnotic, funk-derived bass-line and some beautiful Bee Gees’-esque falsetto crooning from Mercer. An ethereal Pink Floyd-ian instrumental prelude segued into a hard charging “The Mall & Misery” highlighted by some some acidic guitar splashes from the band’s guitarist. Burton manned the drums while Mercer strummed an acoustic guitar for a starkly haunting “Vaporize.” The band closed out their main set with two highlights, one new and one old. The stage and crowd were bathed in shadows, fog and blazing green lights as Broken Bells delivered the passionate and memorable new song “Leave it Alone” with opening act Au Revoir Simone providing gospel like backing vocals and Mercer singing like Don Henley with soul. A flurry of synth notes signaled the arrival of the bands most famous song, “High Road,” from their 2010 self-titled debut, which brought the biggest roar of the night from the crowd. The audience clapped and sang along for five minutes of beauty and unity, bringing a huge smile to Mercer’s face. — PETE TROSHAK