On Tuesday night, Silversun Pickups hit the stage at the intimate Apogee Recording Studio for a special showcase for KCRW and its amazing supporters. The L.A. rock band is back with its first new album in more than three years, and started things off just as loud as that effort.
“KCRW is cool as shit,” Silversun frontman Brian Aubert said from the stage. The host Jason Bentley, looking dapper as ever, jokingly suggested the phrase would be KCRW’s next promo campaign slogan.
The new album is called Better Nature and is well worth the wait. Silversun Pickups are one of my favorite bands. Before the group’s first release, my wife Ali worked together with bassist Nikki Monninger at Rhino Records and she introduced us to the band. I was instantly smitten and played it on my KCRW radio show.
The band kicked off the Apogee set with “Cradle (Better Nature)” and we were off. Brian Aubert is a rock star! He is dynamic on stage – an inventive guitarist, who can sing and howl with the best of them. Monninger’s dress was glittering as she bopped up and down, drummer Chris Guanlao — with his crash cymbal high above his head — was banging the beat. Joe Lester added extra texture to the controlled chaos on the keys.
This is a band that is not afraid to make some noise!
They continued with the lead single from Better Nature, “Nightlight.” I love the singalong chorus and the call and response of the song:
“If we say that (WE WANT IT) / If it’s a game, well? (WE WANT IT) / If we survive this (WE WANT IT) / We only want it with the lights out”
They continued the first set with “The Pit” from their previous album Neck Of The Woods and another new one “Friendly Fires”.
At halftime, Bentley joined the band for an interview. Aubert, taking the lead with his devilish smile, gave hilarious stream-of-consciousness responses to questions about the band’s music, taking time off, and even Donald Trump. (He joked that at some point Donald Trump will whip off his mask and we’ll find out he’s really Sacha Baron Cohen… Borat Bruno Trump. Funny!)
Set two began with “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)“; Monninger has some beautiful vocals on this track about a friend who recently passed away. Dreamlike and very emotional, it was explosive.
The show continued, keeping the small audience thrilled with “Latchkey Kids” featuring Monninger playing the vibraphone, a new instrument for her which was suggested by their celebrated producer Jackknife Lee. Next up was “Ragamuffin” which Silversun claimed was the first time they had played in front of an audience. Lucky us! They ended the set with the show stopper “Dots and Dashes” from Neck Of The Woods.
Jason brought the band back for an encore of “Panic Switch,” which was a perfect way to close out the show. I must say Silversun Pickups are as cool as shit… also.
Cradle (Better Nature)*
Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)*
Dots & Dashes
From the new album *Better Nature
Brian Aubert – guitar/vocals
Nikki Monninger – bass/vocals
Joe Lester – keyboard/backing vocals
Christopher Guanlao – drums/backing vocals