Silversun Pickups kick off their 2023 with some fire on the first stop of their "Physical Thrills" tour in Birmingham.
Not only did this show mark the start of Silversun Pickup's tour and 2023, it also marked the band's first show in Birmingham in just under six years. This was only their fourth ever show in the state of Alabama in over 20 years as a band, so to say fans were excited might have been an understatement, I would say 'ravenous' would be more suiting. In what could have been a cruel twist of fate, the band was stranded in Atlanta the night before the show after flights were grounded due to severe weather in Birmingham, with Uber being fans' saving grace.
Silversun brought along Paris Jackson to open up the show. Paris, daughter of the legendary Michael Jackson, has been carving out a name for herself over the last couple of years, choosing to rely on her own talents rather than her father's name. Over the past few months, Paris has seen opening slots for several national acts, including Manchester Orchestra and The Revivalists. Instead of following in The King Of Pop's footsteps, Paris has fleshed out her own sound, a combination of head-rattling punk rock intensity and the lyricism of more mellow indie folk. Taking on all of the flare and fire of mid-2000's emo royalty, Paris completely controls the stage. Her voice is often soft, delicate on the ear, but she is unafraid to let herself roar to life, dominating the room on songs like "lighthouse". Jackson also brought an impressive backing band, including talent from Teenage Wrist, 3oh3, and Ava Max. Paris Jackson is absolutely a name to watch closely, as I expect her to continue rising in popularity and eventually collide into mainstream success.
In 2023 I feel it is safe to say Silversun Pickups have reach that 'Legacy Act' stage, especially in the indie-sphere. Over the course of over two decades, the band has proven time and time again that they can remain relevant, repeatedly having singles breakout into alternative radio, even crossing over into the mainstream. The band is currently out in support of their latest album, Physical Thrills, which came out last year. For a band with so much success to still be not only be relevant, but also continuing to deliver stellar shows is no small feet.
Blistering guitars, deep bass, and snappy drums were all felt throughout the night. Silversun Pickups certainly haven't mellowed with age, as their show was just as powerful as the last time I saw them over three years ago. Frontman Brian Aubert's chilling vocals cascaded over the speakers. Combining a subtle power with higher pitches, Brian's vocals create a sense of not just urgency, but an impending swell. Nikki Monninger's bass lines amplify this, with a brooding presence pushing through the venue's subwoofers.
Behind the kit, Christopher Guanlao adds the thumping, tight percussion that fans have come to expect. Every strike of the kit felt calculated— with Christopher's drumming coming in prominently in the mix. But, in my opinion, it was Joe Lester's playing that sold the performance. Behind the keys, Joe manipulated the sound and samples, adding in delicate bit of keys and synth. Lester ties together the band's performance, weaving the heavier elements of the other members with delicate highlights.
It isn't often that you get to see so many hit songs in one night. "It Doesn't Matter Why", "Panic Switch", "Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)", "Substitution", "Lazy Eye", and more dot the band's setlist. The band even riffed some of "The Last of Us" from Gustavo Santaolalla's score of the game. Silversun Pickups' setlist can be found below.
1. Stillness (Way Beyond)
2. Stick and Stones
3. Well Thought Out Twinkles
4. It Doesn't Matter why
5. Panic Switch
6. Scared Together
7. The Royal We
8. Alone on a Hill
9. Kissing Families
10. Don't Know Yet
11. Hidden Moon
12. Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)
13. Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
16. Dream at Tempo 050
17. System Error
18. Empty Nest
19. The Last of Us (Gustavo Santaolalla cover) -> Lazy Eye
Birmingham was just the first stop on a 15 night run for Silversun Pickups. With the exception of a show in Chicago supporting Bush and a festival appearance in Maryland, Silversun will be headlining their entire tour, including stops in Knoxville, New Orleans, and Austin. Their full list of dates are below.
2/19 Knoxville, TN — The Mill & Mine* (SOLD OUT)
2/20 Asheville, NC — The Orange Peel*
2/21 Louisville, KY — Mercury Ballroom*
2/23 Pittsburg, PA — Roxian Theatre*
2/24 Cinncinatti, OH — Bogart's*
2/25 Chicago, IL — Q101's AHOY!^ (SOLD OUT)
2/28 Little Rock, AR — The Hall*
3/02 New Orleans, LA — House of Blues*
3/04 San Antonio, TX — Aztec Theatre*
3/05 Fort Worth, TX — Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall*
3/06 Dallas, TX — House of Blues*
3/07 Houston, TX — House of Blues*
3/09 Austin, TX — Emo's*
6/03 Crownsville, MD — Let's Go Music Festival 2023
* with Paris Jackson
^ supporting Bush
This show felt like an instant classic. Silversun Pickups still have everything it takes to put on a great show, something I don't see changing anytime soon. For fans of the band, this is a must see show.