Silversun Pickups Swoon Boca Raton, FL (6/16)

For some, music is all about personal experience. Four years ago, as my wife and I were stuck in L.A. traffic on our first vacation together, I heard this voice leak out of the radio. “I’ve been waiting,” the effeminate singer crooned, over candy coated guitar lines that seemed stripped from an early Pumpkins demo. “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.” Immediately, I fell in love. It was only a matter of time before I discovered those mellow vocals belonged to vocalist Brian Aubert, who led an L.A. quartet called Silversun Pickups, who were growing increasingly popular at the time. It was only a matter of seconds, however, that I became a fan. What started with Carnavas continued with last year’s Swoon, leading all the way up to last night… at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, in the lovely, cynical confines of Boca Raton, FL.

To say I was excited to see the Silversun Pickups play live for the first time is an understatement. It’s rare that South Florida sees too many acts come through – admittedly, something that’s improved as of late – but when a hot act arrives, you tend to get a little thrilled. You could say I was giddy. Yes, giddy. But, who cares about me, on to the show…

Once the music over the PA settled, the stage’s big white backdrop turned a radical purple. Soon enough, the band walked out with smiles on their faces, heading towards their instruments strategically placed across the rather vacuous stage. Bassist Nikki Monninger couldn’t stop grinning, but neither could the crowd. The best word to describe the vibe: happy. But happy became elated by the time Christopher Guanlao tapped away at the snare, leading the band into the roaming gloomer, “Growing Old is Getting Old”.

Try and keep in mind the setting, though. South Florida doesn’t lose its trademark heat. Ever. So, at a “chill” 92 degrees, it’s hard to really get comfortable. Regardless, the venue’s airy grass field provided enough of an escape, where a dedicated (though unlucky) crowd of fans watched from afar. As hundreds stood about, with a dozen or so laying out on towels, the band pummeled away through hit after hit. “Well Thought Out Twinkles” into “There’s No Secrets This Year” felt like a proper left hook, while “Panic Switch” into “Lazy Eye” couldn’t have worked out better.


While the band itself was great, the sound system fell incredibly short. I moved countless times, but to no avail – the sound just never felt crisp. And as any band will tell you, no matter how hard they can play, a disappointing venue will always destroy what could be a great, great rock show. There were, however, some points where the music prevailed. In addition to the aforementioned tunes, “Catch & Release” brought Aubert out alive and “Future Foe Scenarios” sent the crowd into a frenzy, screaming along to Aubert’s scratchy choruses. Good sound or not, everyone could enjoy watching the spectacle that is Guanlao; at times, the guy beats on the drums like Animal from The Muppet Show. He’s a maniac.

Taking all the factors into consideration, the Pickups delivered a “good” show. Monninger was great on the bass, Joe Lester created the sonic worlds on his keys, and Aubert’s heavy W’s and H’s were very fun to hear, just like they are on record. The only thing preventing me from saying this was a “great” show was the venue’s inadequate sound system and the unfortunate weather conditions. Nevertheless, you can’t fault a band for that, and I wouldn’t dare. That being said, here’s to a second show down the road, preferably indoors and somewhere else.

Photography by Rob Bejusca.

Growing Old Is Getting Old
Well Thought Out Twinkles
There’s No Secrets This Year
The Royal We
Little Lover’s So Polite
It’s Nice To Know You Work Alone
Future Foe Scenarios
Kissing Families
Catch And Release
Panic Switch
Lazy Eye

Rusted Wheel
Common Reactor

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