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All words: Robert Winship — All photos: Katherine Gaines

Saturday saddled cold October temperatures on the city. The heat has died down and we may officially refer to the grand array of shows in the following months as having been ‘kicked off’. I finally saw fit to double up on a hoodie and coat, all black. This weather primes the lungs for warm smoke and nicotine…the feeling that bitterness and solemnity, even with clean 2-bedroom and steady income. Money and comfort are great bedfellows. Still, the murk of such nights serves the soul as much as any proper thanksgiving, but we’re talking Silversun Pickups, a band whose early aughts guitar rock has pleasantly turned to reliable and highly perfected alt-radio staples. Honestly, “Lazy Eye” feels more like Dinosaur Jr, but I’m sure that has been said before.

Depending on when you walked into the 930 Club, your frigid solemnity might have been served rightly in the mellow tracks from Silversun Pickups, or sanded to a bitter point with the abrasive Cloud Nothings gargling “I need time to stay useless.”

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As expected, the harsh, melodic post-hardcore sound of Ohio’s Cloud Nothings seemed to surprise the few patrons I overheard walking into the floor level of the venue. However, ten times as many thrashed and banged their heads during the bolstering show. Cloud Nothing’s set was cut entirely from their January release Attack on Memory. Their presence was shaggy and unrelentingly aggressive. Dylan Baldi’s voice breaks with rasp almost note-for-broken-note along with the record. Was it only earlier this year that these Albini-laced genre benders were playing the Red Palace? Indeed. Their best, most exhausting song, “Wasted Days”, saw untamed climaxes in post-hardcore. Every unfamiliar head was scratched and a few chuckles were elicited in the barbaric shouts of the bridge and breakdown, but heavy applause followed unraveling outro. Cloud Nothings are far more intense than the headliner, but Silversun Pickups’ choice in opener is more than respectable. It’s brilliant, like an exercise in 90s angst packaged to it’s most sellable melodic assets.

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Enter Silversun Pickups. They were funny and reasonably thrilled to be playing the 930 Club. Five songs into their set, Brian Aubert reminisced about their early DC shows, “The first time we ever played here was back in 2004 with [drummer] Christopher [Guaniao]’s shitty-ass band, it was at a place called the Velvet Lounge. Is that place still around?” A few moments later, Brian addressed the absence of bassist Nikki Monninger. Nikki is pregnant and, apparently, relaxing to Game of Thrones in the band’s native Los Angeles. Filling in for Nikki, is the Happy Hollows’ Sarah Negahdari. And no one was more visibly excited to be playing than Sarah, as they powered into the appropriately-titled “Substitutions”

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The crowd had reason to be excited too. Silversun Pickups’ set included a deep cut: “Three Seed” from 2006’s Carnavas, about which Brian claimed, “We haven’t played this in a very long time. I’m looking forward to it”. Their encore also included a surprise in the live debut of a brand new song “Make Believe”. Interestingly enough, the band dropped their hits (Bloody Mary, Panic Switch, Lazy Eye) before the encore. Through the many small breaks between numbers, Brian spoke to the crowd, before setting a guitar-laden course for pop-rock. Their reception was warm and their hooks clean, but I’ll leave off with a quiet ode to the beautiful sounds of keyboardist and sound manipulator, Joe Lester. Any man wielding a Moog Voyager and beard is a god to be praised.

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Setlist:
-Skin Graph
-The Royal We
-Bloody Mary
-Simmer
-Here We Are
-Substitutions
-Mean Spirits
-The Pit
-Three Seed
-Panic Switch
-Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
-Lazy Eye

Encore:
-Make Believe
-Out of Breath
-Well Thought Out Twinkles

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  • Cloud Nothings:

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