Silversun Pickups bring first big fall show to Venue

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:05 a.m.

It's the beginning of October and only now are we getting our first, big national band, Silversun Pickups, to come through Gainesville. The O'Connell Center and The Venue, Gainesville's two locations that typically host large-drawing acts, have been quiet thus far and will remain so until the Fest as bands begin to trek through Florida for fall tours. For now, however, we've got a pretty inventive band to kick things off at The Venue on Friday night.

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Silversun Pickups are, from left, Joe Lester, Chris Guanlao, Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger.


Silversun Pickups is a four-piece, indie-alternative rock band that hails from the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the former home of such music figures as Elliott Smith and Henry Rollins. They're certainly atypical of bands to come out of L.A. in recent memory and they try hard to bridge sounds that never graced that city like synth-infused, dance-pop melodies reminiscent of the current scene in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the distorted cacophony of early Smashing Pumpkins.

Make no mistake, this is a band deeply entrenched in modern technological rock, which is probably why they captured the hearts of their native L.A. so quickly. Layered, distorted guitar melodies dripping with added effects like chorus and delay are the weapon of choice for this band. They don't exactly compel you to dance with their rhythm section because the dynamics are so heavily dictated by guitar. Buried somewhere in their collection of songs are the sparse, almost-artificial-sounding drum beats and flowing keyboard melodies that dominate much of today's indie rock, however.

The band's recent full-length release, "Swoon," garnered recognition from nearly every important alternative publication, and the single "Substitution" currently sits at No. 35 on Billboard's Alternative Rock chart.

Having never seen the band live, I can't speculate on how the high-brow production of their studio work will translate to the stage, but this is an opportunity for Gainesville music fans to get a taste of something far from what we're accustomed to here, which is punk, reggae and pop.

Fans of Death Cab For Cutie will likely discern a striking vocal resemblance to Ben Gibbard. That's my only hang-up with this band. The songs often spiral from trance-like dream pop into hard rock at a moment's notice without much change in vocal delivery from lead singer Brain Aubert. He's always in that nice, non-abrasive tone, but I'd like to see him shred his vocal cords once in a while, like Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins used to do, to really give this group a rusty edge. With only two studio albums under their belt, Silversun Pickups is a growing band and over time may be able to revisit the grungier relatives in their family tree. Joining them Friday night will be the Australian indie-duo An Horse.

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Aside from the Pickups there's a pretty decent home-grown crop to round out the week. Tonight at the Orange & Brew, which is at UF's Reitz Union, the Reitz Union Board Entertainment is releasing a compilation album of "bands you should know" in Gainesville.

RUB Entertainment affectionately calls its Thursday night showcase "Local Brew," and many of the bands on the compilation are ones that perform regularly at the Orange & Brew. Helping kick-off the compilation's release are some of Gainesville's biggest and most-diverse bands including garage-rockers Bang Bang Boom, reggae/ska staples The Duppies and Oh Fortuna, an ensemble unafraid to bridge electronica with many forms of traditional rock. Local Brew is always free and it's one of the music scene's best-kept secrets.

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Other notable shows this week include tonight's Heal The World Benefit at Common Grounds featuring The Manor; Chris McCarty on Friday also at Common Grounds; and an-all acoustic show at Backstage Lounge on Friday featuring the North Florida-songwriters Clayton Bush, Travis McLeod and Matt Collins.

Contact Dante Lima at

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