August 23, 2016 Silversun Pickups Alt-Rock Oasis At Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 8-16-16 w/ Kiev & A Silent Film
Following the epic Spring Fling Rock AF 2016 Tour with Cage the Elephant and Foals, Silversun Pickups remained on the road through May, June, July, and August. An ever busy band, the California based Alternative Rock four-piece have been in the game for approximately fifteen years now, and with the release of 2015’s Better Nature, show no signs of fatigue. Known for their highly textured and dreaming guitar driven compositions, Silversun PickupsÂ style is a large blank canvas that Mozart and Warhol would be proud of as their music lends itself to a master who took the brush of music cadences. Now celebrating the tenth anniversary of their debut full-length, 2006’s Carnavas, and supporting Better Nature, the band continues to tour the US through the end of August with support from Kiev and A Silent Film.
In the final weeks of the US run, they made a stop at Tempe Arizona’s own Marquee Theatre on Tuesday, August 16th. Sometimes events that come through early in a workweek at this venue can be a bit unpredictable on what size crowd will turn out. Never too sure of what to expect, many times the supporting acts’ audience will often be relatively light, and later in the performance evening, they will expand as more patrons arrive. However, this was to be a night which the three bands were about to perform for a packed wall to wall crowd. Filled with energy, the venue was charged and ready for a dream-like evening of Ambient Rock.
Orange, California emanates some bang-up bands who seem like they have a free spirit to put into motion. The kind that is a connection and passion to extend Rock-n-Roll elation with all. Maybe it is this freedom that encourages their audiences to let go and just rock it all with complete abandonment. That said, Kiev relays this sort of free spirit quietly with an openness of their love for music. Thus, by sharing their passion, they charge the web of Rock-n-Roll relations. Together now since 2007, this experimental band consists of Andrew Stavas (keys, saxophone), Brandon Corn (drums, percussion), Derek Poulsen (bass, computers), and Robert Brinkerhoff (guitar, vocals), together they emanate hypnotic Rock beats. With influences ranging from Wilco to Radiohead, Kiev has produced a handful of EPs along with their 2013 full-length album, Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth.
Ready to get the show started, they brought with them a vast eagerness to assail their own brand of joy in their all too brief twenty-minutes set. Capturing everyone’s imagination, from Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth, they dazzled with “Ariah Being,” “Falling Bough,” and”Pulsing.” Introduced by Brinkerhoff, Kiev also offered their well-known song off of their 2011 EP, Be Gone Dull Cage & Others, “Be Gone Dull Cage,” a track made popular in 2014 when featured on AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 5. Quite an interesting band, Kiev are well worth showing up early to check out.
If Kiev was the table setter for the night, England’s A Silent Film were the appetizer up next. Formed a little under a decade ago, A Silent Film brings an older style of soothing Rock vocals compliments of Robert Stevenson along with hard hitting percussion work from Drummer Spencer Walker with their sound. Building their name through exceptional songwriting, it was not until two years later that their 2008 debut full-length album, The City That Sleeps, was re-released in the US. Since, they have attracted many listeners this side of the ocean’s attention with many putting them in the same league as Coldplay and The Killers. Now back in the USA in support their third studio album, 2015’s self-titled effort, A Silent Film were ready to enchant Marquee Theatre with their brand of piano laden Rock.
Coming out in a relaxed manner, the British bunch of blokes, in a gentleman’s manner, began to engage the gathering and the appreciation was reciprocated mutually. Opening with “Harbour Lights,” they went on to perform a generous mix of the 2015 album including “Lightning Strike,” “Losing Hand,” Paralysed,” and the lyrically rich Pop tune, “Something To Believe In.” Interspersed between every couple of songs, Lead Vocalist, Guitarist, and Pianist Robert Stevenson would quip about how they were English blokes and no one there could probably understand anything he was saying. Continuously engaging, he would go on to speak about the heat of Arizona, and the appreciation they had for everyone who was in the house to support the evening of music.
Delightful and charming, the band went on to play their single “Firefly In My Window” along with “You Will Leave A Mark,” before wrapping up their set with “Danny, Dakota & The Wishing Well.” From beginning to end, A Silent Film inspired an identifiable connection with the audience through their crisp, catching tunes. The same could be said for Kiev as well seeing both of band’s merchandise booth lines were filled with eager listeners ready to purchase some music and obtain signatures. A Silent Film will be out on tour with Silversun Pickups through August 26th, but will remain stateside for some more special headlining gigs August 29th through September 3rd, so do not miss out.
Following a brief intermission for the packed crowd to cleanse their palate, it came time for the main course, Silversun Pickups. Always bringing a unique style and an auditory arrangement to the Alternative Rock scene, Silversun Pickups is an urban boxed lunch in the corridor of a downtown dissonance of sounds, sights, and motion all tied up neatly to rock a cutting edge style. The road has been long for the collective of Brian Aubert (guitar, lead vocals), Nikki Monninger (bass, leading/backing vocals), Chris Guanlao (drums), and, Joe Lester (keyboards), but it has unified them in an extraordinary way. Reflecting on their history, Guanlao told CrypticRock, “We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs as far as any group of people that have to spend so much time with each other. We’ve come out of it a little bit more like family now than just band members. It’s been kind of really fun to go out like that, to go out to play these shows and to kind of have these refreshed feelings.” Certainly an emotion their fans reciprocate, it was time for the show to begin and let loose into the world of Silversun Pickups.
Beginning with the opening track from Better Nature, “Cradle (Better Nature),” the music molded a mood and their audience was eager to have this nurturing recreated just for them on this evening. Monninger was all smiles through their performance and the fabulous bass player managed to keep the energy up on her side of the stage by jumping and grooving to each outlined note she created. Meanwhile, the band’s distorted guitar work, along with their more recent electronic elements, melds a branded sound particular to Smashing Pumpkins in some ways.
Having earlier played an acoustic set over at a local record store, called Zia Records, Aubert opened the show with an acknowledgment of the day’s heat. Thankfully, the oppressive temperatures did not break the spirit of the band or the audience as the set moved on, mixing tracks from Silversun Pickups’ entire catalogue. Going from 2006’s”Well Thought Out Twinkles” to 2009’s “The Royal We,” early portions of the performance were rich in reflection on the early days of the band. Not allowing the audience to remain completely nostalgic, they sprinkled in more Better Nature tunes including “Nightlight,” “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance),” and “Friendly Fires.”
With many dancing and bouncing around, the band allowed the music to do much of the talking as they played on, not breaking the momentum. Each calm and collected in the rhythm, respectively grabbing hold of the audience, Aubert moved back and forth toward the edge of the stage while Guanlao gave it his all as his hair swung in and out of his face. Of course more back-tracks made appearances in between all, such as favorite singles like “The Pit,” “Little Lover’s So Polite,” and later, the haunting “Panic Switch.”Â Unified as a band, in a deep groove, they immersed the audience in the sea of sound as well as rounding out their set with “Ragamuffin” and “Lazy Eye” prior to a three song encore highlighted by the simplistic yet so beautiful sound of “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already).”
The evening, in its entirety, was the perfect encapsulation of what makes Indie and Alternative Rock special. All three bands brought a slightly different sound/presentation and connection to the evening’s crowd. Those who still have not heard Better Nature, it is a well-crafted album while still holding that signature dark groove Silversun Pickups have become well-known for. With the US leg nearing its end, Silversun Pickups will soon turn their attention to Europe come the fall, but knowing this band, they will be back touring America come 2017.