Live Review: Silversun Pickups at Sumtur Amphitheater

Silversun Pickups perform at Sumtur Amphitheater

On a chilly September night, almost 1,000 people donned hoodies, vintage jackets, scarves and hats and headed to Papillion.

The main attraction was Silversun Pickups, the California band known for its fuzzy guitar tones and singer Brian Aubert’s dark lyrics and bright voice that often draws comparisons to The Smashing Pumpkins.

I see the Pumpkins comparisons (and I’ve made them before), but that’s only the surface. Beyond that, the band has a killer rhythm section and a melodic dynamic that Billy Corgan wishes he had.

Aubert’s guitar rips are usually the focus on songs such as “Panic Switch” and “Lazy Eye,” but drummer Christopher Guanlao’s machine-precision beats shape many of the songs. New track “Simmer” — from the band’s latest album, “Neck of the Woods” — relies on Guanlao’s shimmering beats more than any guitar riff.

Also of note was the performance of Sarah Negahdari, the bassist filling in for Silversun Pickups regular Nikki Monninger. Monninger is pregnant with twins right now and out for the remainder of the band’s tour. Negahdari, of the band The Happy Hollows, dropped some gorgeous basslines even if she did slip and fall right on her butt in the middle of “Simmer.” (Not to worry, she laughed it off and kept right on playing through the whole thing. It was awesome.)

Sumtur is a nice spot. When I pulled up, I quickly noticed one potential problem: Very few parking spaces for a venue that looks to fit at least a couple thousand.

Lucky for me, somebody was leaving the lot early and I was able to swoop into his space. And lucky for everyone else, a shuttle was taking everyone else from another lot to the Papillion amphitheater.

Everything about the venue is nice and new. New concrete sidewalks, new bathrooms, new concession stand, new seating and a huge new stage. It even has a convenient driveway for bands to load in and out of the venue.

How nice.

Aubert, who likes to goof onstage, talked about how much he liked Sumtur.

“We’d never been here before, but we expected it to be like this,” he said. “This is unbelievable.”

Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups.

Fans rocked out hardest to older songs such as “Substitution” and “Panic Switch,” but newer tracks including “The Pit” and “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” were electric.

As I mentioned above, Aubert’s guitar took a backseat on some of the newer stuff, but I loved watching him jam out and solo on “Panic Switch.”

The entire show, like the band itself, had an ever-building energy that rose and rose over the hour and a half show. The audience, which cheered wildly at every turn, seemed to be waiting for the band to go off.

When it became time for “Lazy Eye,” the crowd finally got its chance to explode. The area near the stage (where I was expertly positioned) bounced and popped while the band threw itself into the tune, which was the last of the band’s regular set.

They returned for an encore of “Neck of the Woods” and “Out of Breath,” where Guanlao sounded like a full drumline.

“Well Thought Out Twinkles,” one of my favorite songs by the band, was the night’s closer. Aubert and the rest of the band took their bows and fans screamed for more songs (especially their favorites that they didn’t hear).



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