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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

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Silversun Pickups elicit hovering emotions at 102.1's annual Snow Show

The last time Silversun Pickups were in Milwaukee was for a show at Summerfest in 2010. This was following their release of their 2009 record Swoon, an attempt to elicit even deeper emotions than before, with a smoother sound than the raw white noise of Carnavas. Their set at the U.S. Cellular stage was that perfect harmony of performance and atmosphere... it started to lightly drizzle during the show and the pathetic fallacy overwhelmed me.

Saturday night, however, was a very different setting at The Rave: 102.1's annual Snow Show had openers iamdynamite and The Joy Formidable (who, no questions asked, killed it) which made it a night of music leading up to SSPU in an enclosed, intimate space that somehow stretched to become bigger than itself. Fans and regular concert goers alike joined together to fight the cold of Wisconsin's pseudo-winter in an awesome night of alternative rock.

People who have never been exposed to Brian Aubert's voice live are usually in for a shock when it comes to their first SSPU show. It is incredibly distinct in recordings, the type of distinction that seems impossible to translate live. But he manages to do it almost seamlessly. Granted, the first time he screams may catch you off guard but that's the raw, emotive power of their music.

Even more surprising is when he finally talks to the audience. Silversun Pickups have always been this sort of shy, modest group of music-makers, whose music, of course, reflects this: introverted people with minds that never stop thinking about the complexities of love, life. It wasn't until after the fourth song in their set that he piped up to give us a "thank you." Once you get him started, however, he cannot be stopped, and the words sort of ease into themselves. He acknowledged their last Summerfest show, how they were invited to a Bucks game and were frightened by the t-shirt guns, and most importantly, the stranger on stage: Nikki, the bassist, was on 'maternal leave' per se of touring, and they got a replacement, also female bassist from L.A. named Sarah to take over for the time being. Brian explained that Nikki was "about to burst at any moment" with two twin girls (although he had suspicions that there were "about five of them in there"). And he was very right about expressing such imminency, because the next morning, Nikki tweeted a picture from SSPU's account of her new baby girls! Congrats!

Nikki was missed, but Sarah definitely rocked the stage still, especially when they played older favorites from Carnavas, such as "LIttle Lover's So Polite" and of course "Lazy Eye".

That's not to say that their songs from Neck of the Woods went under appreciated. Some of these have more electronic aspects (because isn't that the only direction music seems to be moving in anyways?) which certainly appealed to the crowd. Their new album also dominated their set list (see below) which surprised me at first, but then I realized that I started to love Neck of the Woods more and more with each song played live.

For powerful moments like the breakdown of Lazy Eye and when Chris was wrecking his drums, the lights were almost strobe-like and completely enchanting, and allowed you to get lost in only the music and only the moment. That's how it felt almost the entire night. This how it was particularly during their encore, where they finished with the intro to Kissing Families, a total tease, until they transitioned into the powerful Well Thought Out Twinkles to finish off the night with dizzying guitars and the beautiful hover of reverberations in the genuine way of the Silversun Pickups.

SETLIST

Skin Graph
The Royal We
Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)
Simmer
Gun-Shy Sunshine
Little Lover's So Polite
Mean Spirits
The Pit
Catch & Release
Panic Switch
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Lazy Eye
Busy Bees
Out of Breath
Kissing Families (Intro)
Well Thought Out Twinkles

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