“Silversun Pickups” put on fun, energetic show at the Roxian

Written By Ana Bellamy, Staff Writer

On Thursday, February 23rd, alternative rock band Silversun Pickups played the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks. Paris Jackson accompanied them. People of all ages gathered at the venue that night excited and left euphoric.

Paris Jackson reluctantly agreed to join the Silversun Pickups on tour. She came to promote her new EP The Lost which was put out last year and her new single “bandaid” had been slated to release that night. Her 45-minute set included her own songs and three covers. Her band joined her for half of the songs on the set, while she performed the songs  “The Runner” and “Yellow Bird” only accompanied with her acoustic guitar. She added two singles from her 2022 EP. 

Paris Jackson chose to do three covers that night, Manchester Orchestra’s “My Friend Marcus” and Blind Melon’s “No Rain,”  in reference to when she collaborated with Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hall and Robert McDowell for her first album Wilted in 2020. The older part of the nearly sold-out crowd showed more interest in her and the band when they started to perform a rockier version of Blind Melon’s “No Rain.” During downtime in the set, Paris and the band thanked the audience for coming early and surprisingly covered the sixteen-second Blink 182 song “Built This Pool.” 

A majority of the audience was obnoxiously loud during her acoustic part of the set. There were a few pockets throughout the crowd who were singing along to her songs, most of them in their teens and their twenties. A large bulk of the crowd did not even know that it was Paris Jackson, Michael Jackson’s daughter, performing, and some were quite impressed with her performance. Sound-wise, the volume of her mic could have been turned up a little bit more, asher voice at times was easily lost behind the electric guitars and the drums. There was also annoying feedback coming from one of the mics that sporadically continued throughout the night.  

Her relaxed and easy-going aura clashed against the theatricality of her other bandmates, who spent a lot of time running around on stage and interacting with the crowd. She was in her own world – completely encapsulated in her own music. The grunginess of her musical style and her stage presence matches her wide array of influences – from The Pixies, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden. At just twenty-four years old, she has a long and exciting career ahead of her and I cannot wait to see where she ends up. 

By the time Silversun Pickups was scheduled to perform, the Roxian was packed. People moved from the bar area to the pit, which was already packed after Paris Jackson performed. There was little room to dance and it all felt very claustrophobic. The people who were there to see Silversun Pickups were longtime fans. For this tour, the band was celebrating their 2022 album Physical Thrills

When the lights went out, the sounds of guitar feedback and cricket noises filled the venue. The fog was billowing off the stage and heading right into the pit. The stage lights were low until each of the four band members filed onto the stage one by one. The ominous nature of the band’s entrance foreshadowed the dissonance of the first song. The crowd went wild when the bassist, Nikki Monninger, came onto the stage wearing a sparkly dress and carrying a stunning bright red Gibson Thunderbird bass. Her lively bass riffs matched her bubbly personality. The crowd roared every time she had a bass solo, which happened quite frequently during the show. Monninger always smiled and waved whenever she had the chance. Singer and guitarist Brian Aubert would continually wow the crowd with his intricate guitar solos and would tease the crowd about how long the solos would last. His unique vocals and growls echoed throughout the venue as the crowd sang along with him. The drummer Christopher Guanlao was entertaining to watch as he gave every complex drum beat his all. The keyboardist, Joe Lester, filled gaps with aesthetically pleasing synth sounds and samples. 

Silversun Pickups played a career-spanning setlist. Older songs “Panic Switch,” “The Royal We,” and “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” made the audience nostalgic. Eight songs from the newer album were played including the live debut of the song “Quicksand” from Physical Thrills. They ended the show with the song “Lazy Eye,” their shoe-gazey third single from their debut album Carnavas in 2003. 

The band always made sure that the audience was part of the performance. One of the highlights of the show was when Brian Aubert quieted the audience and called out for audience participation for the song “Don’t Know Yet.” The song requires snapping in the verses of the song, a job that is generally done by Nikki Monninger. However, the band wanted a sea of snaps to accompany the lone snapper, and that is exactly what happened. After the song was over, the lead singer and the bassist felt to me like successful parents, and powered through the rest of the set. 

The band was ever so grateful for the full audience and the dedication of their fans for the past twenty-three years. Seeing Silversun Pickups live is a unique experience that is different from just listening to them on a device. Enthusiastic vibes flourish whenever the band plays live which gives their sometimes-melancholic songs a playful and refreshing edge. The audience was satisfied and exhausted by the end of the night and could not wait until the next Silversun Pickups tour.