Show Review: Against Me & Silversun Pickups @ Sound Academy

Against Me!


Silversun Pickups

Redeem the Sound Academy

June 29 2010

What happens when Florida’s Against Me! and LA’s Silversun Pickups team up for a double-bill concert? Well, first you get the peculiar anomaly of a lineup outside the Sound Academy at 9pm on a Tuesday night; two hours after the doors opened.  You also get a crowd that ranges between hardcore punks in crusty, studded vests to indie rockers and preppy girls.  But most importantly; you get one of the best shows of the summer.

The Sound Academy often gets criticized for its poor sound quality; but tonight everything sounds great.  (I think the key is to only see bigger-name acts here.)  The distinct voice of Against Me!’s lead singer Tom Gabel cuts through the political punk-rock guitars with ease.  These guys clearly have some experience in live performance, which begs the question- why do they never seem to play headlining shows?  Their last gig at the ACC had them buried under Canadian powerhouses, Alexisonfire and Billy Talent.

There’s a sense of urgency to Against Me!’s set, as if they’re trying to squeeze as much material in as possible.  Little to no space is left between songs, keeping the energy high.  Some of this urgency could be attributed to the fact that they arrived only minutes before their set, having suffered a bus breakdown.  Their well-known singles, ‘New Wave’, ‘Stop!’ and ‘Thrash Unreal’ from 2007’s New Wave all make appearances.  Political songs, ‘White People for Peace’ and their newest single ‘I Was a Teenage Anarchist’ strike a chord with those who witnessed the G20 riots in the city just three days prior.  Especially with lyrics like, “Protest songs, in response to military aggression” and “Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?”

The flashing strobe lights accompanying Silversun Pickups’ first few songs make them look like stop-motion movie characters.  This, combined with a pronounced vocal reverb effect, creates an ethereal atmosphere.  Like Tom Gabel, Silversun singer Brian Aubert (yes, it’s a guy) also has an unmistakable sound.  His soft, feminine voice stays true to his recordings, but he throws in some random shrieks to throw us off.  ‘Well Thought Out Twinkles’, the second single from their debut album Carnavas shows up early in the set and is later followed by ‘There’s No Secrets This Year’, ‘Panic Switch’, ‘Catch and Release’ and newest single ‘The Royal We’ from Swoon.  Debut single ‘Lazy Eye’ ends off the set, leaving the crowd guessing as to what’s left for the encore.  When they finally do come back out, we’re treated to three tracks, including single, ‘Substitution’.

Like Against Me!, Silversun Pickups gallop through their set, not leaving much room for chatter.  They do, however, take time to bring up the house lights and get a good look at the audience.  Tonight’s show is sold out and the sheer size of the crowd freaks Brian out.  The band loves Toronto as much as Toronto loves them; this is one of the very few cities they’ve revisited on their tour.  They even schedule a day off when they’re here, so they can enjoy our fair city.  This trip proved to be more work than play- they performed a surprise secret show the following night at Tattoo Rock Parlour.

As a whole, the band doesn’t move around a whole lot.  In fact, Brian is the only one who steps away from his spot mid-stage.  Bassist Nikki is stiff and mannequin-like and she seems wholly uncomfortable singing her parts.  Though, it’s more endearing than awkward.  Drummer Christopher is a little more exuberant.  Coming into the encore, he plays the same beat for several minutes straight.  He executes the same arm swing and hair-flip over and over, hypnotizing the audience (and making himself dizzy, no doubt).

By the time the show ends, it’s well after midnight.  The crowd spills out onto the street, scrambling for taxi cabs to get back to the city.  There are few things that are worth sacrificing sleep for on a week night, but this show was definitely one of them.

(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- July 15 2010)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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