What's It Like to Open for The Shins?

The Giranimals Know

Growing up, Maury Crandall never played music with his big brother Marty, keyboardist and sometimes bass player for The Shins . It was the age difference, Maury says. By the time he was old enough to play, Marty was moved out and doing his own thing.

"I was always like, 'I'm not going to push it, because I don't want to be the annoying little brother trying to grab a piece or whatever—a mooch.'"

Drummer Maury put together his own band, The Giranimals, with wife Connie, bassist Jamie Rushad and guitarist Fox Fletcher. On Thursday, Feb. 15, the group opened for their rock-star relative and childhood friends in Denver at a sold-out Fillmore Auditorium. (Read the band's take on it here .)

Jamie went to the bathroom "like eight times" before performing in front of 3,700 people, easily the largest audience The Giranimals ever played for. "It was a lot different playing a big show than playing at Burt's," he says. "There's more pressure at Burt's because you can see people's faces."

An eight-months pregnant Connie wasn't as uncomfortable as she thought she would be. "It was more of me being self-conscious of being in front of a whole bunch of people with a huge belly," she says.

When The Giranimals told the crowd Albuquerque is home base, the audience roared back. "Either there were Albuquerque people there, or they've got a tender spot in their hearts for Albuquerque."

Maury says he wasn't nervous at all playing in front of his brother. "He's my brother. He's gotta be family, regardless." He was a little surprised at the rockstarryness of it all. All the band members performing that night were sweet and egoless, according to Jamie. "Since it's people we've known since we were kids, you don't really think of them like that," Maury says. "But then when we got there, there's like a stage manager and the venue coordinator, and he's like 'Let me show you guys to your dressing room. Anything you want to eat or anything you want to drink, we'll get it for you.' "

The night before driving up to the show, Jamie and Maury decided to try their hand at silk-screening T-shirts. "We never silk-screened anything before," Jamie says. "I read about it, and I was like, 'This is going to be easy.' I messed up so many times." Still, some fans bought the shirts. The Giranimals made plenty of new fans and had comments and MySpace friend requests from people who were at the show.

"It went so quick, actually," Jamie says. "I was joking about it beforehand. I was like, "the next thing you know, we're going to be on the road driving back to Albuquerque, and it will just have been this big whirlwind kind of blur.'"

(Quick author’s note: I know these guys. I've played with them. That's not a "I know someone who knows someone famous" thing, it's a "let's be honest when we're interviewing our friends" thing.)

PPS: There is a chance for an Albuquerque Shins show sometime in the future, though nothing's for sure yet. Hopefully, you'll get a dose of The Giranimals then, too. In the meantime, The Giranimals will be taking some time to focus on recording and possibly adding a keyboardist to the band. Also, in the next month or so, Connie will be busy producing a sibling to the Crandall's one-and-a-half-year-old son.