A two-band bill might not sound like your average Orange County rock concert but when a chart-topping, Grammy-nominated act is throwing the party, the crowd needs very little warm-up. On September 29th, the indie rock, Los Angeles-based superstars, Silversun Pickups brought their monumental, high-energy live show to the House Of Blues Anaheim for their first time back in Orange County since February 2020.
Having just released a new album, the band is hitting the road for their “Physical Thrills Tour, and night two happened to land in our backyard. Central to most of Orange County, the House of Blues Anaheim is quickly becoming many Southern California concert goers’ favorite venue. Due to their constant stream of impressive shows, I’ve been obsessively checking their calendar for the latest announcements every day.
It wasn’t surprising to see Silversun Pickups coming to town, as they do frequently play in California, however, I don’t often get the opportunity to see them just a few minutes from my house. With special, recurring openers, Eliza & The Delusionals as supporting act for this tour, I knew that I needed to arrive early.
The Australian female-fronted indie pop group had quite a few fans in attendance that night and an eruption of screams filled the room as the band hit the stage. It’s difficult to lump Eliza & The Delusionals into any one specific genre of music but as the group went through the first few songs in their set, I found myself drawing comparisons to the bands Fickle Friends and Pale Waves.
With a slew of infectiously catchy singles already in the band’s arsenal after such a (respectively) short career, there was no low moment during the band’s set. Covering a wide range of musical stylings, there were songs in the set that allowed Klatt to show off her impressive guitar talents. It’s hard to not mention Klatt’s “Cosmic Jade” Fender Stratocaster guitar which accompanied her through numerous songs in their set list.
At one point between songs, Klatt reminded the audience just how lucky we are to live so close to the world-renowned Disneyland Resort. An audience member in the front row responded in disagreement loud enough for guitarist Kurt Skuse to take notice. “I’m just surprised you’re able to understand us,” Skuse replied with his Australian accent, which was met with enthusiastic laughter from both the crowd and fellow bandmates.
As Eliza & The Delusionals’ set came to an end, I knew it would only be 90 or so minutes before I would be listening to them again, on my drive home. I have had “Just Exist” stuck in my head for the last three days.
Back inside the venue, dimly lit, blue spotlights created an eerie on-stage setting while eager faces watched and waited. The anticipation grew as the band’s scheduled start time came and passed however the fans were more than willing to wait. Suddenly the lights began to dim and it was show time. The crowd erupted as each member of the band entered the stage however bassist/vocalist Nikki Monninger was greeted with, what might be, the most enthusiastic reception I have ever seen from any audience.
Under a blanket of red ambient lighting, the band started their set off with the two opening tracks from their latest album, “Physical Thrills.” For the first ten minutes of the Silversun Pickups set, I mostly just stood, watching in awe. I wasn’t able to hear many people singing along for the first couple of songs however that quickly changed when the band went into “Well Thought Out Twinkles,” off their 2006 album, “Carnavas.”
At nearly fifteen minutes into the band’s set, the audience was ready to hear one of their big “radio singles,” or maybe that was just me. From their 2019 album, Widow’s Weeds came the band’s fourth song of the evening, “It Doesn’t Matter Why.”
A powerfully catchy song with a repeating vocal theme that’s quietly sung over a simple, yet driving drum beat and palm-muted guitar. As the song came to an end, I was prepared to hear a few more songs from their recent release however I was pleasantly surprised.
The band went straight into their 2009 chart-topping single, “Panic Switch,” I got butterflies in my stomach as the distorted bass and guitar simultaneously began playing those six opening notes. “Time. It’s never worth my time,” are the opening lyrics that pull the listener through the rest of the energy-laden, rhythmic soundscape that builds into that epic chorus. I’m certain that videos of this “Panic Switch” performance are available somewhere online because there were at least a hundred hands and phones that frantically flew into the air to film during different moments of the song.
The band powered through a mixture of both new and old material and even went as far back as to pull from their 2005 EP with the song “Kissing Families.” Newer fans would be happy to know that songs like “Scared Together,” “Alone On A Hill,” and “Hereafter (Way After),” also made their way into the set as the night went on. As expected, the band reserved some of their most beloved and popular songs for the end of the night. “Don’t Know Yet,” “Circadian Rhythm,” and “Dots N Dashes” was exciting to hear live but the show was coming to an end and the band still hadn’t yet played their biggest hit.
At this point in the set, I was anticipating the third song of the encore being the final song of the night. I don’t think I was alone in feeling like Silversun Pickups had already given us our money’s worth. The band then surprisingly went into another brand new song from their latest album, and I had no complaints. My favorite, and arguably the catchiest song on the album, “Empty Nest,” is; a mellow, synth-loaded song with effects-heavy guitar riffs and a very pop-centric vocal melody. As the music faded out and just Aubert and Monninger were left harmonizing the final lines of the song, I knew the end of the show was among us. While taking a hit off his vape, Lester queued up a piano track that served as an ominous interlude into what would be the final song of the night.
Without warning, Aubert suddenly began playing the opening guitar riff of 2006’s “Lazy Eye.” The crowd erupted in excitement and the repeating downstrokes of Aubert’s guitar riff were momentarily drowned out as we all realized the final moments of the night were upon us. “I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life. But it’s not quite right,” are the lyrics sung by Aubert, and a thousand other enthusiastic voices. With just as much energy as they brought during the first song of their set, the six-minute crowd favorite made for the perfect ending to an amazing show.