Review+Photos by Ken McCain
October 21, 2017 | Santa Cruz, CA – A four-piece band from Southern California took to the stage of the Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz, CA last Saturday night. I honestly didn’t really know what to expect other than what friends had told me. They said I was in for a great show, and they were right. Brian Aubert (guitar, vocals), Nikki Monninger (bass), Joe Lester (keyboards), and Christopher Guanlao (drums) call themselves the Silversun Pickups. The name comes from late night “pickups” from a local liquor store called the Silversun, or so the story goes. The name has stuck with them as they’ve evolved from an L.A. club act in 2000 to headliners on their current tour throughout the US. With only four albums to their credit, they have managed to elevate their status, opening and touring with some of the biggest names in modern music (Muse, Third Eye Blind), and have been included in some of the largest festivals in the US (Coachella, BFD).
The opening band, Minus the Bear, had plenty of fans in attendance. I met a few in the aisles that had traveled up to 3 hours to come to the show that night. No small sacrifice for anyone these days. Their sound and set was tight, a great way to start the show with about a 45 minute set. With about a 30 minute change over, the lights went to dark blue, then the four musicians came up on stage to a round of screaming, whistles, and waves. Currently touring to support their 4th album ‘Better Nature’, Silversun Pickups are more refined and sure than ever before about the music they have created. Their fans that show up every night are behind them 110%, too. As I was standing near the stage I heard the crowd singing in unison on the very first song “Nightlight” when it came to their part “We want it!!” I knew then that the sold out show was going to yield a tremendous evening of music.
They chose from all four LP’s, weighing heavily on their current album ‘Better Nature’ for six of the 15 songs that night. Many of the shows I’ve been to have the bands shying away from their latest albums and rely on the older songs that got them there. Silversun, though it seems, believes so strongly in their music that they know their audience wants to hear it all, from start to finish. A highlight for me was hearing “Lazy Eye” from ‘Carnavas’ album. This was the first song that introduced me to the band. Though I haven’t followed them since they debuted that song 11 years ago, that song has been kept alive on local and satellite alt-rock radio. And it kept alive the feeling that I had to one day see them when they stopped somewhere close by.
I highly recommend that you catch the Silversun Pickups when they stop somewhere nearby you, too. They’re pinballing around the West Coast and into Canada next, then head east for a few more shows into mid-November.
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