Words & Photos by Marco Denzer

Silversun Pickups returned to The Capitol Theatre as they continue with their very extensive Physical Thrills Tour. With an impressive list of shows scheduled in various venues throughout the states, there are several opportunities to see the band live on stage this summer.

The sweltering heatwave on the streets was a stark contrast to the pleasant cool ambient temperature inside the renowned Port Chester venue, and there was a noticable sense of calm anticipation as the crowd began strolling in to see the show.

Hello Mary, the Brooklyn based three-piece band currently touring with SSPU, started the evening promptly at 8 PM and they delivered one hell of a performance. Helena Straight (guitar/vocals), Stella Wave (drums/vocals), and Mikaela Oppenheimer (bass) came out and immediately tore into their setlist, exhibiting great cohesiveness and chops as they worked through their songs, including “0%”, “Stinge” and “Sink In”. Helena and Stella sang complimentary harmonies with ease while playing their respective instrumental parts, smoothly shifting between subtle guitar strumming and heavily distorted power chords. They fluctuated very well between steady back beats, dynamic rolls, and fills as Mikaela delivered her notably jazzy bass lines and defined their overall sound. Hello Mary’s performance was decidedly good and irresistibly appealing.

At 9 PM sharp, under a flood of blue light covering the entire stage, keyboardist Joe Lester, drummer Christopher Guanlao, bassist/vocalist Nikki Monninger, and guitarist/vocalist Brian Aubert walked on stage to begin their set. Eventually the flood lights shifted to a deep red as Silversun Pickups kicked into gear with “Growing Old is Getting Old” and the crowd released a collective shout of joy.

As guitar feedback from the first song could still be heard and the lights dimmed for a moment, Brian swiftly exchanged his customary Epiphone electric guitar for a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic and the band rolled right into “Sticks and Stones”. A smooth transition to say the least!

The group carried on and delivered several songs in a row, and had just finished playing “Panic Switch” before pausing to greet the audience. As he said hello and expressed gratitude for the band’s return to The Cap, Brian stated “It’s nice to be in this building, this is a good building… I remember this building. This is a good building with good people in it”. He also asked Christopher to raise his hand, “I just want you to know how much he loves you” he told the crowd as the drummer raised his left hand. “Christopher’s hand is broken” Brian added and everyone gasped at the same time. “Christopher you sound fucking awesome man!” he asserted and the crowd cheered loudly in agreement.

“We all have a long journey ahead, so let’s take a moment… let’s take a deep breath” the vocalist continued as he encouraged everyone to join him in a collective yoga-like breathing exercise to release the jitters. Upon the audience’s second exhalation, Joe hit a very low frequency drone on his synthesizer and the band got right into playing “Scared Together” to continue with the show.

Telling everyone there was a long journey ahead was an absolute understatement, because Silversun Pickups went on to play a terrific two-hour show based on a solid nineteen song setlist that kicked ass. They brought an extensive variety of tunes from their catalog for the fans to enjoy, and performed wonderful arrangements of some of them to boot. Highlights included “Pins and Needles” as an acoustic duet featuring Brian and Nikki, and a version of “Rusted Wheel” with Brian performing solo with his acoustic guitar.

Overall, the show was extremely enjoyable. The atmosphere was relaxed, casual, and friendly. It was plain to see the audience truly had fun with Silversun Pickups performing live on stage. There was a mutual exchange of levity, positive vibes and energy between the band and the fans that is hard to beat.

Growing Old is Getting Old
Sticks and Stones
Well Thought Out Twinkles
It Doesn’t Matter Why
Panic Switch
Scared Together
Little Lovers So Polite
Alone on A Hill
Pins and Needles (acoustic)
Kissing Families
Don’t Know Yet
Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)
Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Rusted Wheel (acoustic)
Three Seeds
Empty Nest
Lazy Eye

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