It was pouring down rain as I walked into First Avenue. After spending a couple hours at happy hour with a good friend, I was feeling more optimistic about last night’s show than I had been all day. I had never even heard of Kiev, the opening act, so I was already optimistic about what they would bring to the stage but I had seen the headliner a couple of times before and I was always left underwhelmed. I went last night hoping that something would click with this headliner. Maybe last night was the night where the hype surrounding Silversun Pickups would finally make sense to me.
Kiev took the stage promptly at 8PM. Hailing from Orange, CA, these guys had an almost jam band feel about them without the jam part of it. Although the set didn’t feel improvised like many jam bands, it still had this feeling of being completely free of the constraints of pop music while still keeping within the genre of indie/pop-rock. Their music sounded like a puzzle. There were all of these elements to the four piece that seemed to be doing their own thing but somehow they all fit together perfectly. Whether it was the subtle saxophone, the driving drum beat, or the voice that (for some reason) reminded me of Sting, all of the elements came together to form something truly beautiful and unforgettable.
The members of Kiev had personalities that shined through the already amazing music. They seemed genuinely excited to be playing at First Avenue and for a sold out crowd. They acknowledged the fact that they were “just the opening band” but they also didn’t come off as having the “opening act attitude” that plagues far too many bands. They put their heart and soul out on that stage and, even if it wasn’t noticed by everyone in the crowd, it was noticed by some and that’s really all that matters. Judging by the amount of times the band members were stopped as they were taking their gear from the stage to the staging area (that’s open to the public) was proof that I wasn’t the only one that heard the genius in this band. With only one full length out, I think it’s safe to say that you can expect a lot of things out of this young, up and coming band.
Headlining the night was Silversun Pickups and, as I mentioned before, although I’ve never really been impressed with these guys, I keep going back to their shows hoping something will click. Their music is upbeat, So-Cal feeling indie pop that seems to be all the rage right now. With four full length albums and more radio hits than I can seem to remember, these guys have truly taken the world by storm and have been turning heads for a couple of years now.
The band took the stage and started out the set with one of the many recognizable songs that has been in regular rotation on radio stations. The crowd started singing along to every single word and I quickly realized that, although I had never been a huge fan of their music, I couldn’t help but start singing along too. To say that their music is catchy would be an understatement. With hooks and melodies that instantly get stuck in your head for days, these guys know exactly what they’re doing and technically they’re damn good at it.
Unfortunately, I feel like Silversun Pickup’s shows don’t have the spark that keeps me interested when the music isn’t quite my cup of tea. At times it seems like the band members are just going through the motions. Once in awhile you get a little twinkle of the spark when singers Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger’s voices come together beautifully and perfectly but it never turns into a spark. Each of the four band members seem to be in their own little world while playing the songs. There’s really no banter between band members other than the quick glance to make sure everything is going smoothly and a quick smile between each other.
Their music always sounds on point when I go and see these guys live. It’s almost like you’re listening to a recording but that’s not why I go to concerts. I don’t want them to be sloppy and I know that bands as popular as these guys won’t get up there and make mistakes but I want to see personality or something that you don’t get from listening to albums in your car or hearing the singles on the radio. After the first couple of songs, Brian admitted that Nikki is the lone Hufflepuff in a band of Ravenclaws (Harry Potter reference) and, being the Harry Potter fanatic that I am, I choked on my Diet Coke as I laughed. I took this little joke as a sign that last night was finally the night I would see the personalities of these talented musicians shine but, as soon as I saw that glimmer, the band started up their next song and the glimmer was gone again.
I left the show last night feeling a bit bummed out and wondering just how many more chances I can give this band. There’s something about them that has people eating them up but I just don’t get what it is. Silversun Pickups sounded great live but their lack of fun and personality left me underwhelmed yet again.
Venue: First Avenue
Sausage Fest Meter- 4 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 29
Crowd Surfers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Passed Out People – 0
Celebrity Sightings- Brent of HumanForm
Overall Score-3 out of 10
Show on Deck- Rookie of the Year