Silversun Pickups, Foals
Revention Music Center
May 2, 2016
I have to look up the name of Revention Music Center nearly every time I attend a show. The venue that always seems to change its name but ultimately kind of stays the same. I have been to countless shows there over the years, from Rob Zombie with The Damned to the random standup comedy performances the center sometimes has, or even Nas and Lauryn Hill, a legendary combination. But last night, Foals and Silversun Pickups easily took the top slot as the best show I have ever witnessed in this location.
Admittedly, I went to the show not knowing a lot about Foals. I knew I had seen their name, but couldn’t name their songs. I quickly learned that I was the minority, as easily half the crowd rushed the stage when the group's first song began. Immediately, it hit me that Foals was no opening act; this was very much a double-billed show. Foals could carry this entire tour on this set alone. Their music offers a powerful mix of anything from relentlessly heavy bass-driven grooves to bluesy ballads and bombastic drum clinics. Imagine throwing Modest Mouse and Minor Threat in a washing machine together, with Pink Floyd as the detergent. Foals cover all sides of that spectrum, and they simply blew me away from the first song to the last.
But as much as this show was a double-header, there was an obvious anticipation in the air for SSPU, a band that had not been in town for what seems like quite a while. After 20 minutes, the band hit the stage and wasted no time, immediately exploding into "Cradle," the opening track off their new record, Better Nature.
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Speaking with the band earlier Monday evening, I asked what things they felt were different this time around on tour. The main answer they gave was that they felt audiences were more receptive this time. And clearly, they were not lying. The new record is not only their most anthemic, but adds to a catalog already stacked with songs that couldn’t be easier to sing along to. And the crowd sang with singer Brian Aubert throughout the set list, which spanned the band's whole career. From fan favorites like "Lazy Eye" or "Panic Switch" to more obscure songs like “Kissing Families" or "Dots and Dashes," Silversun had this crowd in the palm of their hands.
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They're also an enchanting band to watch, dominating any stage they're on with a shoegazey charm. Something about this set felt particularly stripped down as well. And maybe that's because this was my first time seeing this band, but part of me expected more in terms of production, and I mean that in the best way. There was no big SSPU backdrop, or backing tracks helping out, or a hidden fifth member. It felt rawer than I expected, and that is absolutely fantastic. They perfectly replicated the dream-pop-rock hybrid style of music I’d grown to love yet still felt like a real live band, which seems to be harder to find at live shows nowadays.
My only gripe (and I always have one) is that the crowd noticeably thinned out after the band played their signature single, "Panic Switch." I guess I was just reminded that some folks still go to shows to hear “that one song I like” and then leave quickly afterward. But in a way, it wasn’t an issue since it left more room for the diehards who had clearly missed this band in its little Texas absence.
I’ll be honest, Silversun Pickups is a band I’d wanted to see for a while, and they did not disappoint one bit. I also love going into an opening act almost completely blind and coming out a fan. I truly believe there is no better way to get into a band than seeing them live, and Foals completely proved that. This was a double-billed Monday night show for the ages.
See ’em Again? If I could, every day for the rest of the month.