The Silversun Pickups put on a solid show on Tuesday. Not mind-blowing, but solid. Their appearance at Webster Hall made me realize two things, and I’ll share those with you in a second. First, though, let me get into the most problematic part of the night. During the fourth song, guitarist/vocalist Brian Aubert shouted “Stop it!” at two extremely excited guys jumping around near the front of the stage. He finished that song off, and then offered up his theory about how people are supposed to rock out at a concert. “Here’s something George Bush doesn’t want you to know: There’s a thing called gravity,” he said. He then demonstrated the physics of gravity by placing two fingers of one hand on the palm of the other in “let your fingers do the walking” fashion. His theory boiled down to this: Jumping straight up and down, good; jumping into other people, especially “little girls,” bad. This is what he said four songs in to guys who obviously loved the band not just a little bit.
Here’s my theory: I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell a person who paid $20 to see you perform how he should celebrate. I’d noticed the two offending parties, too, and even before Aubert said anything I had thought they seemed out of place. But they weren’t hurting anyone. They may have bumped into a few people while they were jumping around, but does anyone standing in the front section have a right to complain about that? I mean, who goes to a rock concert and nudges right up next to the stage thinking, “Now I’m safe from all those sweaty, jumping dudes behind me! Hah!” In fact, the crowd was so unbelievably sedate (welcome to NYC!) that those two guys seemed like the biggest Silversun Pickups fans in the house.
But Aubert’s lecture championed serenity, and it fits with the vibe given off by the band. Seeing them live added to my concern that, while they’ve written some top-notch songs, there’s not enough bite behind them. They play loud music at times, but the edges are neatly rounded off; in concert, they are energetic, but there is little unpredictability, and they’re exceedingly nice and pleasant. Not that they’re required to have bite, of course. But a little chaos is always a plus at a live show. Especially one by a band that sounds an awful lot like the Smashing Pumpkins — a group that didn’t suffer from a lack of anger.
But then I was surfing YouTube for Smashing Pumpkins videos and found this bootleg of “Drown” and wouldn’t you know that Billy Corgan had very similar advice for a crowd back in 1992. Man, those bands really are a lot alike.
As for the two things I realized at the show:
1) Enough with the greasy-unwashed-hair-and-beard look, okay? It’s over, people. Get a razor and some shampoo, and move on.
2) I still have no idea what the band’s keyboardist does.
WHY I’M ANGRY TODAY
A little while ago, I walked by a guy wearing a hot-pink baseball cap and an American Idol t-shirt.