The Shins, Cold War Kids rock LA benefit

Lily Allen also supports local radio station

The Shins, Cold War Kids, Lily Allen and surprise guest Travis headlined a star-studded, sold-out benefit concert supporting Los Angeles radio station KCRW on Saturday night (April 14).

The sixth annual A Sounds Eclectic Evening at Los Angeles’ Gibson Amphitheatre featured a diverse array of performers playing to a 6,000-strong crowd during the four-and-a-half hour show.

The Shins headlined the evening with an energetic performance that ran just over an hour. The New Mexico five-piece breezed through tracks from 2003’s ‘Chutes Too Narrow’ as well as their latest album, ‘Wincing The Night Away’, which debuted at Number Two on the Billboard charts.

“You’ve had lots of flavours to choose from tonight,” bassist/keyboardist Marty Crandall told the audience. “I think The Shins are a lot like butterscotch.”

Crandall also gave a shout out to Paris Hilton, who was rumoured to be in the audience. “Hi Paris, if you’re here,” he quipped.

Before The Shins took the stage, Lily Allen strutted her stuff in green stilettos and frilly pink dress.

“Jesus, I think I might have had a bit too much Jagermeister,” she admitted, wobbling a bit.

With a backing band that included a three-piece brass section, Allen ran through several tracks from her debut album, ‘Alright, Still’, looking a bit worse for the wear.

“This is our last US show so it’s great to be here,” Allen said, fuelling rumours that she would be cancelling her upcoming US dates.

Travis preceded Allen as the evening’s surprise guest. The Glaswegian quartet performed a pared-down set, previewing several songs from their forthcoming album, ‘The Boy With No Name’, as previously reported.

One of the evening’s biggest surprises came from Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. The guitarists adeptly mixed Spanish classical guitar with classic rock, performing rousing renditions of Metallica‘s ‘Orion’ and closing with a startlingly unique version of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Stairway To Heaven’. They received the evening’s most thunderous standing ovation.

Cold War Kids did not disappoint with their bluesy, funked-up numbers. Frontman Nathan Willett wailed on piano while his bandmates grooved across the stage. Playing several tracks from ‘Robbers & Cowards’ including ‘Saint John’ and ‘Hang Me Up To Dry’, the local band quipped, “If anyone took the 405 freeway here, we can give you a ride home.”

After their set, Willett told NME.COM that this was the largest venue the band had ever played in their hometown. “It’s also the first time we played somewhere where people were seated, which was kind of weird. But (actor) Will Ferrell was dancing a lot while we were playing, which was awesome.”

Willett explained why the band wanted to play the benefit show. “We’ve grown up listening to KCRW – they’re the most artistic radio station there is,” he said.

LA band Bitter:Sweet kicked off the evening with a brief but strong set of jazz-infused trip-hop, fronted by sexy singer Shana Halligan.

Rounding out the night was Breakestra, an eight-piece band that delivered the evening’s most political message against President George Bush, as well as a tribute to James Brown.

Proceeds from the evening will go toward preserving and modernising KCRW‘s extensive music library.

“The bands all play for free, except expenses,” KCRW Music Director and DJ Nic Harcourt explained to NME.COM. “It’s terrific that they lent their support.”

–By our Los Angeles staff.

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