Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Brian Tromans and Timothy Reidy
Unquestionably the most musically adventurous Tulip Fest headliner in recent years, LA’s Silversun Pickups drew a surprisingly large crowd to Washington Park on a particularly soggy Saturday.
Vocalist-guitarist Brian Aubert and his band certainly know their way around pop melodies and forms – as they proved with the slinky “Here We Are (Chancer)” and the audience slap-along “Mean Spirits” – but much more than your average band of alt-popsters, they tend to bury their pop tendencies beneath a darker attitude, a noisier attack, fractured rhythms and layers of distorted guitars in overdrive. Several times throughout their 95-minute set – most notably during “Panic Switch” and the final encore of “Well Thought Out Twinkles” – Aubert descended into wild, guitar-freakout abandon as he stalked the stage.
Comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins (rampant in Silversun Pickups’ earlier days) still hold water, but now only to a point. The band has grown beyond easy categorizations with a sound that gracefully fluctuates between the seemingly polar extremes of ambiant and anthemic. There was plenty of guitar crunch in evidence – the encore of “Substitution,” being a prime example – but there were also some more tender moments, as during the shimmering “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” and the almost ballad-ish “Catch and Release.”