Sunday, July 21, 2019

Silversun day

I almost forgot the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony was today. Luckily I was able to catch Lee Smith's speech and Mariano Rivera's speech (closers go last. perfect.) The reason I was not thinking of sports today was that I went to a concert last night. 

About a month ago I learned that Silversun Pickups were coming to New Jersey. I mentioned this to my wife and didn't give it a second thought. She does not like Silversun; Brian Aubert's voice is too high for her. (This is a common complaint among non-fans, they can't tell if he's singing or bassist Nikki Monninger)

Then, two weeks ago I was having a discussion with her (my wife, not Nikki) about the August card show. I'd been hemming and hawwing about going and it was giving my wife whiplash. She needed to know once and for all if I wanted to go - because she had a surprise planned for our anniversary weekend. She was going to get me tickets to see SSPU. I decided to scrap the card show (technically I can still go, but logistically and financially it is a long shot.)

So last night we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant nearby and headed out to Sayreville, NJ (hometown of Jon Bon Jovi) on what was probably the hottest day of the year. We sat in the car with the a.c. running because the doors didn't open until 7pm. No point in queuing when it's 98F outside. I had the idea of ordering tickets at Will Call rather than the stupid digital tickets which 1) gave me a souvenir of the show, and 2) got us in ahead of almost everyone since the Will Call line was a lot shorter. 

The Starland Ballroom is a small place, with bars set up in all four corners and a decent size general admission floor. There was a pull-up screen right in front of us that kept running ads like a damn movie theater. Most of them were for upcoming shows including the one we were all attending. The most popular ad was for IHOP. One guy (who was definitely drinking) shouted Wooo! IHOP! and a couple others laughed and clapped. Then, when the IHOP ad came around again, more and more people caught on until dozens of people were cheering loudly for pancakes. You kinda had to be there. 

The opening act was a duo called I Don't Know How But They Found Me. This was the first song they played:


Appropriately-titled track aside, there were quite a few young fans who were definitely there to see them. I wasn't sure what to make of them at first (is this...hipsters?) but they were energetic and entertaining for sure. I'll have to give them another listen. 

We were fairly close to the stage, only about five or six people were in front of us. My wife had earplugs but my hearing doesn't bother me in concerts. It's usually my back or knees because I am out of shape and standing in place for long periods of time isn't easy. Once the floor started vibrating from all the amps and whatnot my left leg went numb. 

After the opening band finished their set and we were back to watching ads for IHOP and Da Baby (ya gotta see Da Baby!) the vibrating numbness went away. My knees stopped working by the end of the night, but during the Silversun set I felt fine.

I was really psyched to be less than 30 feet away from one of my favorite bands. Fall Out Boy and Muse are stadium acts; I'm still not sure how well-known Silversun Pickups are. Wifey was nice enough to take some pictures and video for me since she's the one with the smart phone. Lots of other people had their phones up too, which was annoying. I wish I could say it's just a girl thing, but at one point I saw three guys all pointing their phones in Nikki's direction. 

Since you're probably not familiar with their songs I'll spare you the full rundown of their setlist. They played a few tracks from their latest album Widow's Weeds - though not two of my favorites, "Songbirds" and "We are Chameleons". I can't complain though. They played pretty much everything else I would have wanted to hear, including:

"Neon Wound", which was the first song of their set (also the first track of the new album)

"Panic Switch" and "Lazy Eye", arguably their biggest hits.

"Growing Old Is Getting Old" which I told myself they'd never play. It's hard to recreate the serenity of the intro in a live setting(way too much reverb) but I'm still thrilled that they played one of my absolute faves.

"Common Reactor" and "Well Thought Out Twinkles", two of my favorites from their 2006 album Carnavas. I was especially stoked for "Common Reactor"

"Circadian Rhythm" a duet I wasn't expecting to hear before the show. Then Brian mentioned the steamy weather outside and said something about making it steamy inside. Then they played something else - "Freakazoid" maybe? Total fake out. 


In the past week I had listened to all of their albums so that I'd be ready for anything and everything. Somehow they got a knee-buckling curveball by me -- they played a track from their debut EP Pikul. I do have Pikul, but I've only listened to it a couple times.

I wonder how many of the 2,000 or so in attendance recognized "Kissing Families"? If the over/under is 50 I'll take the under. 

Before the show started I bought a t-shirt for slightly less than the cost of the ticket. I'm wearing it to work tomorrow. Because I can :)  The merch table also had every SSPU album for sale. And I do mean album - you could buy them on vinyl or cassette! It was like the '80s all over again. 

Even though I have all of their albums I seriously considered it - there was an alternate version of one, with acoustic tracks and remixes or something. I could have spent a lot more money there but I didn't want to carry shit for the whole show. I was lucky that the t-shirt fit in the pocket of my cargo shorts. 

Anyway, the night was incredible. The band absolutely killed it. Brian had tons of energy; it's hard to take your eyes off him. But then you remember Nikki over there, quietly playing her bass, always smiling. And Chris Guanlao on the drums, banging away like an animal. I couldn't see much of him until the encore but he was awesome. And Joe Lester, the Seth Rogen doppelganger behind the keyboard. I felt like he was largely ignored through the night, like don't forget Joe over there. Someone take a picture of Joe.


Heck, we didn't even get a good picture of Nikki. My wife is 5' 4" and everyone in front of her was taller. This is what it's like to see a concert in 2019.

When Silversun concluded their encore Brian tossed a couple picks into the crowd. Nikki waved and blew a kiss or two. Chris tossed his sticks in either direction. I've never been so close to catching a drum stick..and I wasn't that close to either one.

Immediately after the show I had to remind myself how to walk. My back was fine, my ears weren't ringing, but my legs did not work. The concrete steps felt squishy, like mud. My wife and I were parched so we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for cold drinks. It was after 11pm and still 90F outside. 

Today I spent the whole morning in bed, resting my aching knees. Could have slept all day but I wanted to finish sorting a big box of baseball cards I bought on eBay two weeks ago. Also I have trades to complete and feedback to leave. So don't worry, sports card content will be returning to The Collector soon :)

Thanks for reading!



  1. Sounds like a fun time. Not familiar with the band but they sounded good in the videos I watched. Great surprise from your wife.

    1. It really was! Thanks for watching & reading!

  2. Happy anniversary to you and your wife! Never heard of this group, but I liked a few of the songs you shared. Just curious... what did you and your wife order at the Japanese restaurant?

    1. Thank you! I'll have to add another song or two in a future post.

      I had pork katsu and she had shrimp tempura.