By Dan Potter
October 26, 2017
VANCOUVER – On the road one last time in support of their 2015 release, Better Nature, are the fifteen year strong Silversun Pickups who brought a pleasing mix of ethereal melodies and alternative rock oomph to Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom.
Joining them on this tour was Minus The Bear, an equally exciting veteran indie rock band, touring in support of their new album, VOIDS. They took the stage and dropped us right into their math rock meets modern rock universe. This unique blend of music wasn’t the only notable thing happening on stage as guitarist Dave Knudsen was noticeably injured as he wore a walking cast for a badly sprained ankle, which also forced him to sit while playing. But this painful sight wasn’t enough to stop everyone from enjoying the alien like signals he was conjuring up from his massive effect pedal collection and his use of two-handed tapping sorcery.
The jerky stop-start rhythms were also smoothed out by middle age funk, and as they would crescendo, time seemed to stand still as the lead looper swung his guitar manically over his head and let loose a cacophony of other worldly echo regenerations ending the set with a question mark.
Minus The Bear weren’t the only ones sporting visible physical injuries. With a badly broken arm held in a sling the Silversun Pickups singer/guitarist took the stage needing a little help from his friends as it took two people to strap on his guitar. It looked painful but he nonetheless bounced across the stage with happy energy inspiring the crowd to chant “Brian, Brian.” There is nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than an underdog flaunting disaster to produce a spectacle and the rocking set didn’t spare any of the high octane bombast that fans have come to love this group for. The sheer will power to carry on with a busted arm was worth the price of admission right there.
Of course Brian had a lot more help from his bandmates also. Sitting up high on the drum riser was the skins man bashing away at his drums like Animal from the Muppets making the songs sound aggressive throughout the night. The more electro influenced tracks like “Ragamoffin” showed a new dynamic in concert that was unexpected for them as the band members roles shifted a little during the number when the bassist operated a sound pad and the keyboardist controlled the other evolving ambient depths like a sonic Svengali. About mid-set Brian addressed the crowd and explained to us that he had surgery just the day before saying “I’m on a lot of pain medication so I don’t know if this is real.”
The excellent light show further added to the hallucinatory night and when the first notes of “Lazy Eye” trickled out the audience left the building so to speak. Ripping through those intricate guitar lines was still no problem at all which must have been a herculean task the day after an operation. They ended the hour plus concert with “Kissing Families” a perfect example of their shy dreamlike passiveness that can explode into a fuzz wielding behemoth that will take a face off at close proximity. At the end of the night as that mangled arm quietly strummed a beautiful etude which seemed to drift off into the sound of the roaring crowd, it was clear adversity had been conquered and those in attendance breathed both a sigh of relief and of total appreciation.Commodore Ballroom, Minus the Bear, silver sun pick ups