L.A.’s Silversun Pickups have been on the road for a number of weeks now, traveling the country with Viva Voce from Portland and another outfit, The Kingdom. The show Tuesday night at hi-dive makes it number 25. Only three more gigs to go before CMJ, according to Dave Dupris, their smiling, curly haired and oh-so-friendly tour manager. Dave was in quite a good mood considering the long haul that the troop had been on. A number of TMs I’ve met in my many years of ear ringing experiences did not have as good a disposition just two days into the tour, running around the venue as if the red nuclear launch button had accidentally been pushed and they can’t find the secret code to turn it off.
Arriving at hi-dive, there was a pretty hefty crowd gathered outside. I thought it was just the effects of our recent smoking ban, but as I made my way inside it was evident that Silversun has quite a number of fans here in Denver.
I ran into a friend Julian and we chatted up our plans for the holidays, which could include leaving his mom with some happy Christmas brownies and running off to Vegas with a buddy. Now that’s what I call the holiday spirit.
I had missed The Kingdom, but was hearing good things about their show when Silversun Pickups took the stage. At first it seemed like they were playing all the songs from Carnavas in order for the crowd (their debut album on Dangerbird Records that came out this summer). Vocalist and bassist Nikki Monniger began with her smoky, slinky lead on “Melatonin” and the crowd was immediately pulled in her web. Then came “Well Thought Out Twinkies” (I love that title) and the room’s energy and heat began to rise as Brian Aubert (vocals, guitar) went from caressing to careening both on the mic and from his guitar, finishing up with a sly grin the likes of Perry Ferrell as the screams from the bobbing heads exceeded his own. “We’ve been to Denver before but never played here,” he said, setting up for the next song, “Thank you. Thank you. You now have a free pass to go crazy.”
And they did.
And so did Nikki, who you could tell was the more subdued one in the bunch. But her “rock out” moment kicked in around the “Kissing Families.” In fact, the whole band was going off, including keyboardist Joe Lester and Christopher Guanlao on drums, who had been throwing down the entire time, generating enough fuel to power the block.
Part way through Brian did a shout out to one of the members of The Kingdom who was in the crowd, sending many thanks to their band since this was their last night playing together. Towards the end of the set when things went into trippy instrumental world, Brian got down into the crowd, giving one fan the big thrill of adding to the mayhem by plucking on the strings.
After they left the stage I got to see who was actually in the crowd, and ran into Greg from VAUX. He caught me up on the band’s latest plan tours and we were both bitching about the commercialization of the world when Vive Voca took the stage, which was surprisingly quick. The duo set up of Anita Robinson on guitar and vocals and Kevin Robinson on vocals and drums took right off, and for a moment I couldn’t tell where the bass rhythm was coming from. At the same time Greg asked, “Where’s the bass? Is it coming from a mixer?” That was my only guess, but I was impressed by Anita’s guitar skills. It was extremely refreshing to see a woman going off on lead guitar, and she definitely rocked it for the peeps.
For those of you reading this that have Silversun Pickups on your “show to do” list, you’re in for a big treat. Make a point to get up front. Maybe you too can touch Brian’s guitar.