This weekend, NYC was treated to the sounds of Silversun Pickups as they hit Webster Hall to promote their 6th album, Physical Thrills (New Machine Recordings). It was my first time seeing them, and after their mind blowing performance, I’m ready to revisit their discography and possibly even rent a car to follow them on tour.
The show opened with the acoustic guitar intro of “Stillness (Way Beyond)” which kicks into a tribal, rhythmic, moody stomper that perfectly set the tone for the evening. From there they launched into the hypnotic syncopated beat of “Sticks and Stones” and at one point I found myself rocking along, camera down, not shooting until I realized I’m in the pit and only get three songs, so I better get to work! It’s easy, though, to get lost in their sound and lead singer Brian Aubert’s beautiful voice.
Along with Aubert, the LA based band includes Nikki Monninger on bass and vocals, Chris Guanlo on drums, and Joe Lester on keys. And each member is a standout, with Guanlo and Monninger laying the foundation with some serious beats and grooves, and Lester adding to their atmospheric sound with strings, synths, or piano. And of course, there’s Aubert who not only soars on the mic but is just a beast on his guitar. At points, he would just lose himself in his guitar as he stepped away from the mic to rock out, the flashing spotlights catching glimpses of him as he thrashed around mid-solo.
While they opened the night with the first two tracks from Physical Thrills, their set covered songs from other parts of their now 20+ year career. Highlights included “Well Thought Out Twinkles” from 2006’s Carnavas, “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” from 2012’s Neck of the Woods, and “Kissing Families” from their 2005 debut EP Pikul. Another standout was “It Doesn’t Matter Why” from 2019’s Widow’s Weeds, reminding us to stop worrying about the afterlife and focus on now. I would have loved to hear “Freakazoid” from Weeds but I’ll just have to wait for the next show.
Opening the night was Australia’s Eliza & the Delusionals who have toured with SSPU in the past and clearly won over the hearts of their fans in the process. It was a feel good, more pop based set that had the crowd singing along to singles like the sugary “Nothing Yet,” more contemplative “Just Exit” with its soaring vocals, and 90’s sounding pop nugget “Give You Everything.” I’m not much of a pop person but I can see why fans love their infectious good-time energy and sound, not to mention they put on a great show. Definitely one of those perfect pairings between opener and headliner.
Make sure to catch Silversun Pickups on their current tour which takes them up and down the East Coast for the remainder of November and December.
Scroll down for setlist, vids and pics of the show (photos by Kevin McGann)
Setlist: Stillness (Way Beyond), Sticks and Stones, Well Thought Out Twinkles, It Doesn’t Matter Why, Panic Switch, Scared Together, The Royal We, Alone on a Hill, Kissing Families, Don’t Know Yet, Hereafter (Way After), Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance), Dots and Dashes (Enough Already), Substitution, Nightlight Encore: Dream at Tempo 050, System Error, Empty Nest, Lazy Eye
ELIZA & THE DELUSIONALS