Concert Review: Silversun Pickups, Against Me! and the Henry Clay People at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, June 16
With Against Me! and the Henry Clay People
Sunset Cove Amphitheater,
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Better Than: Anything else that has ever gone on in West Boca.
It started out as kidding around with Silversun Pickups' drummer Christopher Guanlao about the band selling Silversun Pickups' Off! at its merch table during this interview. Considering the high volume of skeeters buzzing around this peninsular venue, located in unincorporated Boca Raton, during the SSPU's performance this night, it actually would have been a marvel of an idea.
The bug factor was anticipated, but the gig's prompt 6:30 p.m. start time was not. Apparently Sunset Cove
adheres to some suburban noise ordinance that mandates it to finish
its shows exactly at 10 p.m. As a result there are limited references to performances from L.A.'s the Henry Clay People and
Gainesville's Against Me! (egg on face).
For what it's worth, reports suggest
Against Me! put on a remarkable show, loaded with new tracks from its
recently released album, White Crosses. Its growling,
angst-ridden track "Miami" was apparently one of the set's highlights and ex-Hold
Steady keyboardist, Franz Nicolay did a stellar job pouncing on the
Silversun Pickups took to the stage exactly at 8:30 p.m. and opened things up with
propulsive "Growing Old is Getting Old" from its latest
album, Swoon. Frontman Brian Aubert wasted no time here, demonstrating
his fierce feedback prowess laced with intermittent cathartic yelps. A
muddy, kickback-drenched interlude nicely slid matters into a charging
version of "Well Thought Out Twinkles." Led by Nikki Monninger's nasty, as in viciously good, bass plucking and with Aubert pouncing on guitar
frets, it was a quintessential demonstration of SSPU's
With his slam-dunk-style cymbal crash, Guanlao showed he was also force
to be reckoned with on the next song, "There's No Secrets This Year."
Guanlao likes to keep one of his high hats set up at an excruciatingly
distant arm's length away, and considering the man is about five foot
nothing, when he pummels that cymbal it looks like he is almost
jumping out of his stool.
On the mellow version of "The Royal We" that followed, the
subpar conditions of Sunset Cove's PA system became apparent. During Aubert's softer
choruses here, the speakers still sounded like they were clipping. Even sound systems in shoddy warehouses can have better acoustics. Perhaps
the sound guy couldn't keep up with Aubert's shifting vocal range?
It would have been impossible to make out if any adjustments were made
on the next track, "Little Lover's So Polite," due to the extreme hiss
emanating from the speakers: Aubert's purposeful axe fuzz set to
overdrive on this one.
Spacey synths at the hands of keyboardist Joe Lester led the band's most essential track, "Lazy Eye." Essential not
only because it is the quartet's most famous song to date, but more so
because it captures (like it did on this night) all of the SSPU
touchstones that make them such a popular act. The song began ever so
slowly, with a surmounting tension that had the audience in a palpable
anticipation for what's to come: the crazy crescendo. And man, did they
go bonkers when it came, rewarded for the wait.
"Lazy Eye," did not serve as the night's
encore. After a brief rest the four-piece came back with the
moderately-paced "Substitution," a song which Aubert showed that
although he had spent a good part of the night snarling into the mic, he
could still manage to hit those tender, androgynous-sounding choruses.
Monninger did a splendid job with her delicate verses on "Creation Lake"
next; a cover of the Movies' "Creation Lake" off of SSPU's debut EP Pikul.
Aubert then stomped on his effects pedal and pulverized his way through
"Common Reactor" while simultaneously hitting those scowling vocals
every so often. We figure the guy must suck down about a dozen lozenges
after every show.
And then shortly before 10 p.m., awash with pedal fuzz, the show was
over; all in time for any soccer mom in attendance to make it home in
time to tuck in their sweeties.
Personal Bias: We love the fuzz!
Random Detail: The line at Taco Bell was ten cars deep after the show,
lots of SSPU fans with the munchies apparently.
By The Way: Both opening bands (yeah, that one's we missed) released
albums last week; The Henry Clay People with Somewhere on the Golden
Coast and Against Me! with White Crosses.
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