Silversun Pickups at State Theatre, 9/21/12

Silversun Pickups at State Theatre, 9/21/12
Photo by Youa Vang

Silversun Pickups with School of Seven Bells and Atlas Genius
State Theatre, Minneapolis
Thursday, September 20, 2012

If the Smashing Pumpkins were the grandfathers of indie rock, then the Silversun Pickups are a bit like the love child of that '90s band. With a set heavy with songs from their new album, Neck of the Woods, the Los Angeles band was able to showcase a new sound, but still maintain the signature psychedelic, ambient cadence that runs through every song.

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The group played sans regular member Nikki Monninger, out on maternity leave having twins (do bands have a maternity leave policy?), with fill-in Sarah Negahdari of the Happy Hollows, who fit Nikki's role on backup vocals and bass quite comfortably. With a day off prior to the show, the band was able to explore the city, with lead singer Brian Aubert throwing in the obligatory, "We love your cities. We love Minneapolis. It's fucking great." The group even was able to visit Pizza Luce after catching an illuminating set from Built to Spill at First Ave, Aubert adding, "Trust me, we don't often have days off like this one. Sometimes it's pizza...and crying."

Set against a simple white screen allowing for a variety of colors -- depending on the mood of the song -- the band opened with "Skin Graph," a song that starts softly, building into guitar riffs and a driving drum beat. The live sound Silversun was able to achieve was quite impressive, considering there was only four band members. Sometimes people love a band for their ability to write catchy music, other times for the lead singer's unique voice. Silversun Pickups certainly fall into the latter. Aubert's voice often gets lost in the instrumentation of a live show, but when he projects his voice like on "Catch and Release," you can truly hear the potential of his vocal range.

Silversun Pickups at State Theatre, 9/21/12
Photo by Youa Vang
Silversun Pickups at State Theatre, 9/21/12
Photo by Youa Vang

The band has come a long way since opening for Snow Patrol back in 2007 along with OK Go, another band who has gone on to make a name for themselves. Silversun has taken that audience and cultivated it around their ability to captivate an audience with their strength of transitioning the recorded piece to a live show.

With the thrill of a new album, most groups are able to showcase the new pieces. An artist once said, "It's difficult to play the same pieces over and over again -- you've heard them a million times -- but the audience is there to hear the classics," thus, "Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)" transitioning and ushering in the opening guitar riffs of "Lazy Eye," a piece that is an instant hit as soon as you hear it. Perhaps people connect to it so much with the opening lyrics "I've been waiting for this moment all my life," a line that encompasses the promise of love in its simple words.

Closing with two pieces of Neck of the Woods, Brian invited the crowd into the pit for the upbeat classic "Well Thought Out Twinkles," bringing a bar venue energy to a theater vibe. Despite the show being seated, no one on the main floor kept it so, recognizing that it was a rock show.

Critic's bias: Perhaps it was because I did not know much of Silversun Pickups' catalog, but despite the energy and amazing light show, I could not connect to the show as well as if I had known more of the band's music.

The crowd: There was a surprising amount of men in the crowd.

Overheard in the crowd: "His dance moves remind me of Ben Gibbard."


Skin Graph
The Royal We
Blood Mary
Here We Are (Chancer"
Little Lover's So Polite
Mean Spirits
The Pit
Catch and Release
Panic Switch
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Lazy Eye

Busy Bees
Out of Breath
Well Thought Out Twinkles

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