By Samantha Wu
Photos by Jack Alexander
LA-based alt-rockers Silversun Pickups played The Danforth Music Hall this week to a full house. The band, comprising of guitarist and vocalist Brian Aubert, bassist and backup vocalist Nikki Monninger, keyboardist Joe Lester, and drummer Christopher Guanlau, played an hour and a half long set – one well received by the excited crowd – to highlight their latest album Better Nature, which was released last year.
The band kicked off their set with “Cradle (Better Nature)” — a strong number to open with, the song has an infectious beat with a great hook — followed by fan favourites “The Royal We” and “Nightlight”. What defines Silversun Pickups is music with a thriving, steady beat and a powerful rhythm paired with Aubert’s emotive rich tenor voice. Often times the guitar or bass lines will be ones that are instantaneously memorable as is with “The Royal We” and it was clear the crowd loved it.
Periodically, Aubert took the time to pause the music and chat with the crowd and, in one instance, in particular, he used the moment to put Monninger on the spot, asking everyone to keep their eyes on stage and focused on her. For “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)”, it would be the first time in the set that Monninger would be singing a few of the verses solo which made her nervous. Clearly, she was shy. It was rather cute as it’s already apparent that she has a pretty voice.
Visually I can’t say that the show was all that exciting to see as often times the stage was flooded in a solid colour. Everyone would be awash in either white, red, blue or purple (as the photos demonstrate) where later in the song did the lighting shift and mix for more visual appeal. Another technical note that I think could have been improved upon, I found that Aubert’s microphone blended right into the music rather than sitting slightly above it and often times I couldn’t hear the lyrics.
But that definitely did not take away from the enjoyment of the show as the sheer energy that comes from the band, when Aubert and Monninger came together to play the hell out of their instruments, those moments were electric and the crowd ate it up. Technical quibbles aside, Silversun Pickups played a great set.
They finally played my — and the rest of the crowd’s — favourite song near the end of their set. The song that had people noticing who Silversun Pickups were when it was included in the soundtrack for the movie Sucker Punch, “Panic Switch”. I will always say that this song has one of the best bass lines in any song and indeed Monninger dove headfirst into that bass line and nailed it. The crowd jumped, danced, and sang along. It was wonderful.
For their encore, Silversun Pickups came out and delivered an unexpected treat for the audience — the live debut of their song “Tape Deck” off their most recent album. Like the majority of their songs, the beat is catchy and infectious, the chorus powerful and bombastic. It’s a great song to hear live. All in all, Silversun Pickups delivered an incredible set that the crowd adored. As with any great show, I only wish it had lasted longer.
Cradle (Better Nature)
Well Thought Out Wrinkles
The Royal We
Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)
Little Lover’s So Polite
Tape Deck (live debut)
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
The Wild Kind