We had the great pleasure of attending the Chicago date of the Neck of the Woods Tour featuring headliner, Silversun Pickups, as well as supporting bands, School of Seven Bells and Atlas Genius. Check out our review of the tour after the break.
After just over a two year absence, Silversun Pickups returned to the Aragon Ballroom, the scene of their last Chicago show. Unfortunately, as usual at the venue, a few sound problems popped up throughout an otherwise excellent night of music.
Openers Atlas Genius are on their first US tour behind their debut EP, “Through The Glass.” Playing in front of a couple hundred people the band hurried their way through songs from their EP and their forthcoming album during their half hour set. The young quartet from Adelaide, South Australia show a lot of promise. The band have a radio friendly rock sound, best represented on the song “Trojans”, which has had heavy radio rotation since it was released.
Up next was School of Seven Bells, who are touring to support their most recent release, “Ghostory.” Their dark yet danceable rock is one of the more unique sounds out right now, and “Ghostory” improves on this successful formula. The band opened their set with “Windstorm,” a beautiful, key heavy song from the bands’ second album, “Disconnect From Desire.” They transitioned quickly in to “The Night,” the first song on “Ghostory.” The highlight of the set was “I L U,” a stunningly gorgeous song that seems to be about a relationship ending but still loving the person. The sound was very full, with a drum track supporting the drummer, along with keys and guitars. “Low Times” best showcased singer Alejandra Deheza’s incredible voice. The loud kick drum and squall of a guitar riff perfectly complemented Deheza’s vocals. After 2 more songs, the band ended their far too short set to loud applause.
After a quick break, it was finally time for Silversun Pickups to take the stage. The band played a set heavy in material from their most recent album, “Neck of the Woods,” with some fan favorites mixed in as well. The band opened their set with a heavier, more electronic sounding “Skin Graph,” which also opens the new album. The band jumped right in to a very energetic “The Royal We” from their second album, “Swoon.”
Live, the new songs sound a bit less polished than on record, but they posses a more raw energy. The harder sound was very evident on songs like “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” and “Simmer.” The drums seem to explode, the bass sounds deeper, and the guitar parts more raucous. Longer instrumental parts in many of the songs also show the band’s comfort level with each other as musicians. This is especially incredible as singer guitarist Brian Aubert, drummer Christopher Guanlao and keyboardist Joe Lester have only played a couple of shows with fill-in bassist Sarah Negahdari, of LA band The Happy Hollows. Regular bassist Nikki Monninger is on maternity leave, and is pregnant with twin girls.
Another one of the songs that sounded better live was “Here We Are.” Beginning with a quiet drum machine beat, Guanlao strummed an acoustic guitar, while the rest of the band slowly joined in. As the song built to the mid-point, Christopher eventually returned to his regular drumming duties as the song picked up pace. Lead singer Aubert finally addressed the crowd after the fifth song. He and the rest of the band seemed to be genuinely awed by the support of the crowd, which now filled the floor and various balconies. The loudest applause of the evening was reserved for “Little Lover So Polite” and “Lazy Eye” from their debut album, “Carnavas.” In particular, set closer “Lazy Eye” led to a riotous sing along, with Aubert making full use of his wireless guitar by running around the stage during his guitar solo.
The encore started off a little unexpectedly with 2 more song from “Neck of the Woods,” before going in to another fan favorite, “Well Thought Out Twinkles.” The band left the stage to a standing ovation, and Aubert even came back and hopped down on to the floor to greet fans in the first couple rows. With the band getting some more play on the radio, the band is well on their way to bigger and better things.
Information about the review…
Tour: Neck of the Woods Tour
Bands: Silversun Pickups, School of Seven Bells and Atlas Genius
Date: September 21, 2012
Venue: Aragon Ballroom