Photo by: Claire Marie Vogel
It's been two years since alternative-rock foursome Silversun Pickups played in the East Bay, and on Sunday night the group made its angsty return to Oakland's Fox Theater to promote new album Better Nature
. The wait was well worth it, as the crowd proved more than ready to rock 'n' roll.
Indie-rock group Minus the Bear opened the show, with one of the members taking the stage in an air-cast due to a broken ankle. Nevertheless, the group successfully amped up the crowd for the main event.
Silversun Pickups launched right into its set and didn't greet the crowd until around three songs in. Lead singer and guitarist Brian Aubert said excitedly that the Fox was one of the group's all-time favorite venues.
The band played all of its most popular tracks, providing the crowd with a perfect mix of classic rock intensity and a whimsical alternative vibe, with watercolor mood lighting and just the right amount of grunge and quirk. Bassist Nikki Monninger stood out in particular, not only as the only woman left in the group but also for her dazzling ensemble: bejeweled silver oxfords and a charming, vintage red dress. After the first few songs, she broke out into her own vocal and bass solos. Drummer Christopher Guanlao also had quite the stage presence, head-banging so vigorously his face was never fully visible to the crowd.
There was no shortage of audience participation throughout the evening, with many audience members dancing to the band’s harder rock tracks. One of the peaks of audience participation was during “Friendly Fires,” which Aubert warned was a bit of a heavy-hitter. The audience showed no hesitation, and the entire venue erupted in clapping and repeating the chant “So could ever break you down.”
Humor was also in steady supply Sunday evening, as Aubert continuously teased the packed floor section for needing attention, saying, “If you’re insecure on the floor, then you don’t deserve to be on the floor.”
The highlight of the approximately one hour-and-ten-minute set fell toward the end, when the group played its beloved hit “Panic Switch.” This led Aubert to start winding down the show, with a soft instrumental transition, releasing some of the fiery angst from the group's harder rock material.
The band closed out the show with its biggest hit, “Lazy Eye." The packed crowd sang and danced in unison before heading out into the night.
Silversun Pickups is continuing its tour throughout the country, closing its final tour stop in Los Angeles on Nov. 25, with a benefit show for Puerto Rico at The Ace Hotel.