Saturday, June 27, 2009

Live action round up: Silversun Pickups, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart & The Horrors in Athens

June has been the busiest month of the year for live music in Athens. Actually, this is an understatement as I really can't remember any other month in recent history with so many festivals and gigs taking place in and around the city. We have already written about Synch Festival and next week we'll talk about Ejekt and Rockwave. Today's subject, though, is the three gigs that took place at the Gagarin 205 club this month, giving us the opportunity to see up close and personal three of the best new bands around at the moment, who presented us their excellent recent albums: Silversun Pickups, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and The Horrors.

Silversun Pickups - Live @ Gagarin 205 (June 24)

The Los Angeles band that made its debut in 2005 with the EP "Pikul", is on the road to promote its second full length, "Swoon". The album, boasting a Smashing Pumpkins-sized rock sound, made it into the Billboard Top 10 and now it's Europe's turn to discover them. This discovery hasn't happened just yet, but judging by the powerful 90-minute set that we've witnessed here, it could happen soon. And it would be well deserved.

The most striking element of their performance is Brian Aubert's guitar sound. Listening to the album I thought it wouldn't be easy to recreate this buzzing guitar storm on stage with just one guitar, but Brian proved me wrong. Of course, he gets plenty of help from his band mates in recreating the album's big, spectacular soundscapes. Chris Guanlao is certainly one of the most impressive drummers I've ever seen and together with stylish (check out that red dress!) bass player Nikki Monninger they make up a killer rhythm section. Birthday boy Joe Lester (there was a small celebration at the stroke of midnight) put the finishing touches with his keyboards to the elaborate sonic construction that left the small but enthusiastic audience thoroughly pleased. Highlights included "There's no secrets this year", "Panic switch" (video below) and "Lazy eye" (their breakthrough single from debut LP "Carnavas"). Check out the night's setlist here.

Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch, Live@Gagarin 205 (June 24, 2009)

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Live @ Gagarin 205 (June 15)

This was the New York band's live debut in Athens, but it was the second time I was watching them in action in a little over two weeks, as I also had the chance to catch their fiery half-hour set in Primavera Sound's second day recently. The excitement of the band to be able to play a city that may be rich in ancient history but is so far out of the usual rock tour's beaten path, was evident from the start. Their enthusiasm grew as the sizeable audience responded enthusiastically to their vintage indie-pop sound, clapping and dancing along from start to finish. The result was a storming performance, superior to the one I saw in Barcelona, lasting a little over 50 minutes (with two encores) and taking in the majority of their stunning debut album as well as a couple of brand new tracks ("103" and "Higher than the stars"). Other highlights of this memorable night that the band declared as the best of their tour (and I have no reason to doubt them) were "This love is fucking right", "Everything with you" and new single "Young adult friction" (video below). For the setlist, click here.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Young Adult Friction Live@Gagarin 205 (June 15, 2009)

The Horrors - Live @ Gagarin 205 (June 10)

The Horrors, with the help of Portishead's Geoff Barrow, have taken their sound to new dimensions with their second album "Primary Colours". The gothic garage punk of "Strange House" is still present, but their sonic palette has expanded to include krautrock rhythms, psychedelic melodies, early '80s dark, new wave atmospherics and '90s shoegaze guitar soundscapes. It's obvious that they feel they have outgrown their older material as the whole of their main set comprised of 8 out of the 10 "Primary Colours" tracks, with "New ice age", new single "Who can say" (video below) and epic closer "Sea within a sea" being the most impressive. They closed their hour-long explosive performance with a three song encore made up of "Strange House" singles "Count in fives", "Sheena is a parasite" and "Gloves". The complete setlist can be found in my mixgrill review (it may be all greek to you, but the song list is written in perfect english!).

The Horrors - Who Can Say, Live@Gagarin 205 (June 10, 2009)

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