Silversun Pickups delight home crowd
Silver Lake's own pack the Wiltern and fill it with high spirits, playing the
lush psych rock that took them nationwide.
By Sarah Tomlinson, Special to The Times
The Silversun Pickups are moving on up, and they're taking their friends and
fans with them. The L.A.-based quartet has outgrown the small Silver Lake rock
clubs where the group has been a staple for more than six years, selling out the
2,200-capacity Wiltern well in advance of Saturday night's homecoming show. But
the band is still very much a part of the close-knit musical community from
which it arose. The Wiltern was packed with fellow musicians from the area indie
scene, including opening acts the Happy Hollows and Midnight Movies, and the
Pickups played a boisterous 90-plus-minute set that felt just as intimate as the
drunken, affable shows with which they built their loyal local following.
Longtime fans were there as band members literally learned to play their
instruments onstage in the early days; they were there as singer-guitarist Brian
Aubert overcame his natural shyness and matured into an assured frontman. They
heard the current lineup of Aubert, bassist Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher
Guanlao and keyboardist Joe Lester perfect its lush, psychedelic rock sound.
They're invested in how it all came to be.
The rest of the world came knocking this year. SSPU was asked to play Coachella
and Lollapalooza, a raft of late-night talk shows and opening turns for Snow
Patrol, the Kaiser Chiefs and Wolfmother amid constant touring of its own.
Hometown fans were understandably excited to have their comrades back in their
The band couldn't have been happier to be home either. Playing nearly all of its
2006 debut album, "Carnavas," which was released on local label Dangerbird
Records and has sold 200,000 copies, the group was in high spirits, showing off
how its dynamic, highly charged sound can range from pop prettiness to proggy
Greeted like conquering heroes at the opening number, "Melatonin," the band
unleashed a wild, moody soundscape built on tempests of fuzzed-out guitar, à la
My Bloody Valentine.
The adoring audience danced and sang along, anticipating every breakdown and
guitar solo during the band's new single, "Well Thought Out Twinkles," a
strutting rocker that recalls Smashing Pumpkins with its soaring vocals and
From the fiercely beautiful pop rock number "Little Lover's So Polite" to their
anthem-like breakout single "Lazy Eye," which featured a guest turn from Paul
"Pablo" Wilson of Snow Patrol on guitar, the band members controlled the night's
mood like seasoned maestros.
The exuberant set was sloppy at times, but it just added to the night's
congenial mood, as when Aubert started the song "Future Foe Scenarios" twice,
just because he wasn't feeling it the first time.
The band returned for a kinetic four-song encore that included much of the 2005
EP "Pikul." Closing with the gorgeous ballad "Creation Lake," written by their
mates in local band the Movies, the Pickups once again revealed that the shows
may be getting bigger and farther afield, but their hearts will always be right
here at home.