TVD Live: Silversun Pickups at House of Blues, 10/21

Last week’s lineup was straight from a dream. There was some sort of voodoo involved, I’m sure, to bring such a talented group of people together on a tour, with a stop at Cleveland’s House of Blues along the way.

The combined aural experience of Silversun Pickups, Cloud Nothings, and Atlas Genius was amazing, as it seemed that each supporting band possessed a little bit of the magic that makes Silversun Pickups so enthralling. All three bands were phenomenal in their own right and are not to be missed when they come to a town near you.

Silversun Pickups enchanted the crowd the moment they took the stage. The lighting lent a gritty feel: unrefined and eerily industrial. Opening with “Skin Graph,” the band exploded live, lights bright behind them. Frontman Brian Aubert beckoned the audience in, a come hither twitch from his spindly fingers.

On this tour, the band has a substitute bassist with them since their regular bassist, Nikki Monniger, is home with twins to which she recently gave birth. Of the situation, frontman Brian Aubert joked, “Nikki got super, super fat. She knew she couldn’t face you guys because you’re judgmental, so she went to the fat farm in Costa Rica. We thought it was chicken quesadillas and pad thai. Turns out it was two baby girls.”

Filling in is bassist Sarah Negahdari, of the band Happy Hollows. She’s got a delicate quality that only enhances those powerful bass lines that practically drip sex appeal. There was guy that kept calling her name from the crowd, and Aubert reminded her, “What’s the only rule for tour?” In a quiet voice she replied, “Don’t get pregnant.”

The lighting was perfect throughout the set, shifting from a delicate blue for “Royal We” to an alien green that washed over the band for songs such as “Bloody Mary” and “Mean Spirits,” to a full out rainbow menagerie for “Lazy Eye.”

Hometown heroes Cloud Nothings returned to play their first show—of what will hopefully be many—at Cleveland’s House of Blues. Opening their set with a couple bold instrumentals, they showcased exactly what the rest of the world is raving over—this punk/rock/noise band boasts some of the fastest and most technical playing around. Vocals from frontman Dylan Baldi are raw, in a way that awakens that angsty teen you once were. Their set had me wondering if the single “Stay Useless” was a thumb at the world, because these boys are far from that.

They bounced between moments of frenzied angst, to sparse orchestration, to a bass that cut into the silence. The lighting was perfect for the band, a dark ether seeming to twist about the band members and pour forth from the stage. Trance-like, the drummer went on, accelerating. The washy guitars, the pedal craze worked the crowd over.

It seemed that they knew just how long they could captivate them, often testing the attention span of the crowd, pushing just a bit too long with an instrumental interlude before changing up a tempo or meter. Right when crowd members were turning to each other or heading for the bar for round four, the band exploded, Baldi’s guttural cry emerging.

The stylish Australian four-piece  Atlas Genius opened the night, sending pop/rock tunes out into the crowd. The band, consisting of brothers Keith, Steven, and Michael Jeffrey and Darren Sell, won over the crowd with songs that featured funk-laden bass with soaring guitar lines overtop. Frontman Keith Jeffrey brought a prowess to the mic on the song “Symptoms” that could rival Bono.

The set, overall, was full of energy, with a driving percussive eruption from the drummer and silky group harmonies. The band whirled about the stage, working themselves into a frenzy. On the song “Electric,” the band proved themselves true masters of their craft as they layered instruments around the stage, building to a drum break coupled with heavy bass. This song is full of climactic teases that had the crowd begging…which finished in true rock fashion with a jump kick from the singer and two heavy hits on the bass drum.

This is one of those bands you’ll want to keep flagged in your mind as artists to watch. They’ve gained a bit of notoriety for their inclusion in FIFA13, but it’s not just gamers that are going to gravitate towards these talented gentlemen from down under. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re catching them headlining a US tour in the beginning of 2013—and selling out venues along the way.

Sadly, you won’t be able to catch Cloud Nothings or Atlas Genius on tour with Silversun Pickups, as they’ve wrapped up that leg of tour, but Silversun Pickups do have a few more tour dates.

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