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But over here,” he says of his new environs, “you’d feel safe walking around at three in the morning.” The 35-year-old Mercer is suitably attired for Oregon Spring Break: the rain-sodden time of year during which most residents plan their southern escape in order to avoid the tail end of the region’s winter doldrums.He’s wearing a moth-eaten grey wool sweater and tattered jeans, his face unshaven and framed by studious-looking glasses that give him a rumpled, professorial air.From the moment she arrives in her Stevie Nicks-inspired, white-witch ensemble, it’s clear she’s here for one reason only: to hunt down and capture Murdoch, who’s nowhere to be seen two hours into the fete held in his group’s honor.Finally, at around 1 a.m., Murdoch slips in wearing a natty suit and porkpie hat, pleasantly chatting up fans before Love elbows her way into the clutch of indie-rock poseurs circled tightly around Murdoch, vying for his attention. all the time.” Murdoch politely accepts the note before Love further invades his personal space with a kiss on both cheeks.“We were eating dinner with those guys backstage and, for whatever reason, we started talking about what each of us smelled like when we’re wet,” says Crandall, beer in hand and strolling through the outdoor patio that serves as this evening’s afterparty haunt.“Stuart said he smelled like a ‘Labrador’; not just ‘wet dog,’ but ‘Labrador.’ So we all started asking whether we could sniff his ass.Songs both old (the audience of nearly 20,000 croons along to the chorus of “New Slang”) and new (the band debuts three songs this evening, including a tune Crandall introduces as “The Phantom Limb”) score direct hits with the crowd.Belle And Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch later gives the Shins a shout-out from the stage in his inimitable Scottish lilt, beknighting them “top of their profession as good indie rockers and a fine bunch of lads.” It’s a description that makes Crandall giggle later that evening.

As the group prepares the release of its third album, MAGNET checks in to see how its garden’s grown.

The austere, Soviet look was put together this afternoon by singer/guitarist James Mercer’s wife, Marisa, who purchased the gear through a military-surplus site on the Internet.

This pseudo-revolutionary fashion statement would undoubtedly have Fidel Castro smiling ironically about the capitalist implications.

When last seen sometime after 2 a.m., drummer Jesse Sandoval is quietly making the rounds while Mercer busies himself cleaning broken glass off the cement floor after accidentally toppling a tray of empty beer bottles.

“I don’t want to see anyone step on this and get hurt,” he explains.

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