Silversun Pickups Bring Down the House in Buckhead
As a lifelong music fan and live music junkie, I’ve seen shows in every imaginable genre. Jam bands, rappers, country artists, rock stars, the list goes on, but even with such an extensive list, I’d never seen an artist twice. “Why pay to see the same show twice when you can have new experiences with other bands?” I rationalized. That was my view, at least, until I first saw Silversun Pickups at Hangout Festival last May. From that point, I went from steadfastly never seeing a band more than once to seeing Silversun Pickups three times in a year. The third and most recent time came Tuesday, May 2 at Buckhead Theatre, and the California quartet played their most energetic and enrapturing set to date.
The night began perfectly as I pulled into open street parking with a broken meter right at the doors of venue. After free, front-row parking and a brief wait outside, the doors opened up and my photographer and I made our way into the second row of a venue that was slowly filling to capacity around us. Kiev began their opening set as a group of older-looking musicians that played an interesting yet unremarkable first song and systematically dismantled that image from that point onward.
“Do you mind if we play some rock & roll?” the frontman, Robert Brinkerhoff, asked the crowd, and then it happened. They blew us all away. Each song was a musical journey that featured nasty drum grooves, funky bass lines, blistering guitar solos, and a fourth member that amazed us on both keyboards and saxophone. Once their set ended and their spell began to wear off of the audience, they began to fill with anticipation of the Silversun set that was soon to come.
The pre-set mix gave way to a soft instrumental version of the Silversun Pickups song “Better Nature,” after which the current tour is named, and it dawned on the crowd that the band would soon be taking the stage. The familiar music filled me with nostalgic images of memorable experiences at my last two Silversun Pickups shows as we exchanged concert stories with those around us in anxious excitement. The house lights dimmed and old stories gave way to new memories as Brian, Nikki, Christopher, and Joe walked out and assumed their respective positions.
The 16-song setlist began with “Nightlight,” and “Well Thought out Twinkles” before it deviated from the setlist they had done on their last several stops (Birmingham setlist HERE for reference. They continued by placing “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” in the third slot followed by a trio of killer songs, “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)”, “The Pit,” and “Tapedeck,” the first and last of which are on their most recent release, 2015’s Better Nature.
Personal favorite “Substitution” kicked off the second half off the set, which is a song I hadn’t seen them play live in a while. This altered setlist could easily have been a response to the raucous crowd at the Buckhead Theatre on Tuesday. The band was expending every ounce of energy and passion that they had and the crowd was giving it all right back. Some of the loudest uproars of applause I’ve heard outside of a major festival headliner came that night, and we were handsomely rewarded for it.
Other special inclusions in the set included “Ragamuffin” and a teaser of “Rusted Wheel” as an intro to their hit and final song, “Lazy Eye.” A long break off stage gave fans time to vacate and their energy time to dwindle, but neither happened and the band eventually resurfaced for their three-song encore. “Three Seed” and “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” primed the crowd for the finale “Wild Kind” that featured members of the band waving goodbye to the crowd as the song and set came to a close.
Many fans lingered around the stage hoping for a guitar pick, drumstick, or setlist to commemorate a great night in Atlanta. They say three is a magic number and with Silversun Pickups that rings true. The third time I saw them was hands down the most engaging, electric, and energetic show I’ve seen from them or anyone in the past year. If you’ve never seen a Silversun Pickups show, please do yourself a favor and go ASAP.
Show and ticket info can be found HERE
Full setlist from the show can be found HERE
Photos by Sidney Spear for Bullet Music