It was pouring down rain as I walked into First Avenue. After spending a couple hours at happy hour with a good friend, I was ready for a live show to blow my mind. I was also ready for something different than usual so I was more than excited to catch the opening band that I knew absolutely nothing about.
Kiev took the stage promptly at 8PM. Hailing from Orange, CA, these guys had an almost jam band feel about them without the jam part of it. Although the set didn’t feel improvised like many jam bands, it still had this feeling of being completely free of the constraints of pop music while still keeping within the genre of indie/pop-rock. Their music sounded like a puzzle. There were all of these elements to the four piece that seemed to be doing their own thing but somehow they all fit together perfectly. Whether it was the subtle saxophone, the driving drum beat, or the voice that (for some reason) reminded me of Sting, all of the elements came together to form something truly beautiful and unforgettable.
The members of Kiev had personalities that shined through the already amazing music. They seemed genuinely excited to be playing at First Avenue and for a sold out crowd. They acknowledged the fact that they were “just the opening band” but they also didn’t come off as having the “opening act attitude” that plagues far too many bands. They put their heart and soul out on that stage and, even if it wasn’t noticed by everyone in the crowd, it was noticed by some and that’s really all that matters. Judging by the amount of times the band members were stopped as they were taking their gear from the stage to the staging area (that’s open to the public) was proof that I wasn’t the only one that heard the genius in this band. With only one full length out, I think it’s safe to say that you can expect a lot of things out of this young, up and coming band.
The band took the stage and started out the set with one of the many recognizable songs that has been in regular rotation on radio stations. The crowd started singing along to every single word and I quickly realized that, although I had never been a huge fan of their music, I couldn’t help but start singing along too. To say that their music is catchy would be an understatement. With hooks and melodies that instantly get stuck in your head for days, these guys know exactly what they’re doing and technically they’re damn good at it.
Singers Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger have voices that blend together perfectly while still keeping a unique style to it. The beauty the voices swirl together to make is almost haunting at times but the upbeat drums behind them keep the music from turning dark or too haunting to call pop music anymore. Their signature distorted guitars also give the music a bit of a darker feeling to it but somehow the band is able to keep it light and fun.
Silversun Pickups have been around since the early 2000’s and with four albums and three EP’s out, they had more than enough material to keep the sold out crowd entertained last night. Throughout their thirteen song set list and three song encore, these guys had a way of picking the perfect songs to play. It didn’t matter how old or how new a song was, the crowd was singing and bobbing along to every song with a smile on their face.
As the show ended, people were ushered outside into the rain and the realization that we don’t live in sunny southern California seemed to hit everyone at once. What a bummer but at least we had the time spent with Kiev and Silversun Pickups to pretend!
Silversun Pickups Set List: Nightlight/ Well Thought Out Twinkles/ Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)/ Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)/ The Pit/ Pins and Needles/ Substitution/ Friendly Fires/ Latchkey Kids/ Panic Switch/ Ragamuffin/ Growing Old Is Getting Old/ Lazy Eye
Encore: Cannibal/ Three Seed/ The Wild Kind