Outside was windy, misty speed-walking weather. Inside was a heat wave of shared suspense for Silversun Pickups, who would soon finish their two-night run at Brooklyn Steel with an enveloping performance for a full venue. The L.A. rock band (formed in 2000), are touring on their fifth studio album, Widow’s Weeds (2019), and their sold-out show on Friday night mostly focused on this cool new material. Before it went down, their fans were holding down prime viewing spots with little space to spare, many looking around eagerly as if the four might materialize right beside them at any moment. SSPU’s enticing merch counter included a drum head autographed by the band. Next to a list of the three shows in which it was used, the black marker handwriting denoted the date that Trump was impeached (12/18) with several exclamation points.
Greeted with ebullient screams, Brian Aubert (guitar, vocals), Nikki Monninger (bass, vocals), Joe Lester (sounds, keyboards) and Christopher Guanlao (drums) stepped on stage and started off with the impactful “Neon Wound,” which also opens their new record. Its first line “Hello, my friend / It’s nice to see you again” set the tone for the guitar-fueled show and pulled in engrossed gazes. The mass of fans present kept nodding their heads and bouncing in time with the racing melodies. That reaction never ceased, making the inside of Brooklyn Steel look like a wave pool of smiling faces and floating solo cups as Silversun Pickups rocked.
Each band member’s contributions interlocked crisply, embellished with contrasting details. Aubert’s unique vocals swayed from comforting to chilling; from vulnerable to intense. Monninger’s driving bass work was equally dynamic, sometimes weightless like a hummingbird, sometimes heavy-hitting and satisfyingly sticky. She also supplied mellifluous vocal parts, delivering harmonies that mingled just as nicely with Lester’s emotive keys and effects. Guanlao’s ruthless drumming forced all the other pieces to snap together with pleasing precision. Glimpses of their happy expressions as they soaked up the stage time eased through the smoke-machine haze, creating a contagious vibe of alt-rock bliss.
Their seventeen-song set included an encore of the new “We Are Chameleons” from Widow’s Weeds, followed by “Well Thought Out Twinkles” and “Lazy Eye” from their first album, Carnavas (2006). Silversun Pickups gave New York a sampling of their full discography, playing songs from all five albums, plus “Kissing Families” from their debut EP, Pikul (2005). Fan favorites like “Panic Switch,” “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance),” and “Don’t Know Yet” popped up early on, increasing the frequency of cheers from their happy fans. It wasn’t until twenty minutes into their velocious performance that Silversun Pickups addressed BK Steel between songs. Loving applause filled even the slightest pauses as Aubert spoke. “So… you could have chosen to do anything in the world tonight, especially in a city like this one. And you decided to spend it with us this evening, and that makes us feel sooo fucking special. Thank you so much for coming tonight.”
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley