Show Review: Silversun Pickups @ Stubbs (7/19)

As I prepared for my evening at Stubbs, I pored through several different albums.  A few tracks from Silversun Pickups, all the Against Me, and the solid new album from Henry Clay People. I didn’t know what to expect necessarily, caught in nostalgia for my punk days, but not so amped for the main course. Still, I love a good live show, so I just had to be there.  Follow the jump for more.

Unfortunately, Henry Clay People played a bit early, so I missed a few of their songs.  But, if you were there early, you were treated to an encouraging young act, who played with joy throughout the duration of their set.  They had an energy that carried into the crowd, winning over new fans as they breezed through the evening.  Closing with Bruce’s “Born to Run” certainly doesn’t hurt their credibility around our offices.  Hope to see these cats again soon, and go get Somewhere on the Golden Coast while you’re at it.

Now, I’d been looking forward to Against Me, as I hadn’t seen them in a long time.  Sadly, they didn’t really live up to everything my nostalgic memory provided me.  Sure, Tom Gabel’s voice has always been the heart and soul of the group, but nowadays it sounds so clean and measured.  They spent the majority of their time playing tracks of New Wave and White Crosses, yet still showing love for the old days by playing “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong.”  Even then, they sounded clean, and the rabble-rousing that once took place, seemed a distant memory.  This was just a short blip on my list of complaints, such as the non-existent back-up vocals, or Franz’s absence as a performer during the set.  Perhaps I’m jaded by the new material, but they didn’t seem ferocious or dangerous, instead they came off as just another mundane punk band gone rock.  They briefly made up for this by closing with “Unsubstantiated Rumors” from the classic As the Eternal Cowboy.  I miss Tom’s guttural yells, but there’s always the classic records, right?

Man, people love Silversun Pickups. I’m not sure why, not at all, but the band was gracious during their set in Austin.  You know, give a band a killer light show, and they’ll sound/look incredible.  Take, for example, Muse, who have boring records that I wouldn’t listen to on a good day, but who rock an incredible live show worthy of going to time and time again. This seemed to be the case for Silversun Pickups, who used a great lighting set up to power through their set, but in the end, the performance was underwhelming.  At points, the vocals didn’t come across as clean as they did on recording, and the bass took over the sound in such an overpowering fashion, that the rest of the band, even the phenomenal drummer, didn’t come across.  Add that to the fact that the keyboardist didn’t seem to do much during the set, other than sitting there.  This is all opinion, but nothing seemed particularly special about either the music or the performance, even as they blazed through their hits near the end of the set. For me, there just feels like there are hundreds of bands out there doing incredible things, and this just didn’t seem like one of them. At least New Pornographers come to town Friday!


  • Silversun Pickups played a lot better than this lackluster online writer would have you believe. They shredded their songs. It was so loud. And the lights were amazing.

  • Dear Robert,

    Not to be snarky (ok, maybe a bit) but if the venue’s speaker volume and light show are the only signifiers of awesome you’ve got besides the vague “they shredded,” then how do you justify knocking someone who named specific reasons they didn’t enjoy the show? …Oh wait, I forgot, this is the internet; who needs justification?

    Also, repeat to yourself: it’s music, it’s subjective.

    (this entire comment makes it sound like I care about your opinion much more than I really do, though; sorry)

  • Terrific photos!

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