Bands that focus on delivering radio friendly singles might dominate the pop music world but L.A.-based indie rockers Silversun Pickups are living proof that not every group needs to take that approach. Releasing a new studio album every three years and then touring relentlessly in support of it, Silversun Pickups train for marathons, not 5Ks.
And so far, that approach has paid off.
Last night before an appreciative capacity crowd at House of Blues, the band played a satisfying set that provided an overview of its decade-long career and showed just what a unique sound it has — the 90-minute performance alternately evoked alt-rock heroes Smashing Pumpkins and classic rocker Neil Young. During the course of the concert, scruffy singer-guitarist Brian Aubert regularly thanked the enthusiastic audience for its support over the years. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
The sometimes-blinding light show that cast the stage in a deep blue hue and often featured flickering hot white strobes accentuated the music as well. Highlights from the 15-song set included “Nightlight,” a tune that showcased Aubert’s androgynous vocals, and “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance),” a track from the band’s latest album, Better Nature
, that featured a duet between Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger. Their voices meshed perfectly on the tune, suggesting they might want to harmonize a bit more, even though Aubert, who said “Nikki, don’t fuck this up” before the band played the song, had to give Monninger a pep talk before the tune.
“Panic Switch,” the closest thing the group has to a hit single, featured an undulating bass riff and loud-to-quiet vocals, and “The Pit” had an epic quality to it as Aubert’s vocals sounded particularly menacing while he whispered his way through most of the track.
Aubert introduced “Friendly Fires” by saying “this is going to get a little weird,” and the song effectively commenced with a trip-hop intro featuring synthesizer bleeps and blips and soft vocals before it turned into a rousing number that had audience members clapping along in unison.
The three-song encore included the shimmering, Smashing Pumpkins-like “Bloody Mary,” a tune Aubert said the group hadn’t played “in a while.”
British indie rockers Foals, another act that’s in it for the long haul, opened with an hour-long set that showed off the dynamics of its music. On a song such as “Mountain at My Gates,” the band relied on a bluesy guitar riff and heavy drums to create a somber mood. Singer-guitarist Yannis Philippakis would capably slip into soulful falsetto at moments as well, showing off his range. The band's set nicely complemented the Pickups' set.