Blowing Off The Roof

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Silversun Pickups

The roof was blown off George’s Majestic Lounge last week. It wasn’t from the massive tornado/thunderstorm/typhoon/hurricane hitting Northwest Arkansas, though. No, it was from the raw rock, enthusiasm and power of Silversun Pickups, Manchester Orchestra and Cage the Elephant.

But who could blame the bands for showing an excessive amount of energy? The wild storm couldn’t stop NWA music fans from packing George’s backroom to capacity. And those who were there were repaid heavily from all three bands who, even though they all play a uniquely different blend of indie-rock, seemed to know the dimensions of how to put on a “punk rock” show, complete with more energy packed inside George’s than a Red Bull, Monster, coffee and 5-hour Energy combined.

Hordes of people packed George’s from the get-go because of the torrential downfall. But it was clear as soon as they took the stage that Silversun Pickups packed more electricity than the lightning lighting up the windows at the venue.

With a constant smile on his face, vocalist and guitarist Brian Aubert never broke stride when powering through almost a two-hour set in the crowded Majestic Lounge. Silversun Pickups have always been a bit of a unique band, but the live show really showcased their interesting musical qualities. Aubert’s unique guitar playing lit up the crowd along with his interesting vocals, which mixed well with bassist Nikki Monninger’s excellent musicianship and Joe Lester’s ability to fill songs out with his keyboard. However, the real talent shined through with drummer Christopher Gualao, who did not stop moving once throughout the entire set. A remarkable feat for anyone, let alone a band that puts out that much energy.

The band performed several crowd favorites, including “Little Lover’s So Polite,” “There’s No Secrets This Year” and “Future Foe Scenarios.” The slightly inebriated crowd went crazy when the band delved into their last two songs before the encore, “Panic Switch” and “Lazy Eye.”

Silversun might not be the most produced, clear or sharpened indie-rock band out there today, but their live show never missed a beat.

Manchester Orchestra

While Silversun Pickups might have been the headliners and the most impressive band of the night, Manchester Orchestra seemed to have an unusually big following considering their still underground success and just now breaking into alternative radio.

Even though the crowd and the band went nuts for new favorites like “I’ve Got Friends” and “Shake it Off,” the band neglected to play any songs from their debut album “I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child.” Though this disappointed, lead singer and vocalist Andy Hull clearly puts passion into his songwriting and into every one of those songs live.

The band might not have had the most energy of the three bands, but they showed their love of the live concert through their facial expressions, vocal strains and pure passion for the songs they played and the crowd noticed and joined in.

Cage The Elephant

This was an indie show, but punk rock was present during the opening set for scene newcomer’s Cage the Elephant, whose lead singer Matt Shultz covered every inch of the stage at George’s in a matter of what seemed like five seconds.

Cage definitely engaged the punk rock aspect with their music combining screeching vocals with extremely dirty guitar work giving those who came in from the storm a wakeup call needed for the rest of the night with the first sing-along, the current radio hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.”

The electricity could have gone out all over Fayetteville last Monday night and George’s still would have been powering through the night with the energy and enthusiasm shown by these three bands and all the listeners who were packed in. This not only says so much for the popularity of the bands, but of the commitment of the NWA music fans. Even facing the adversity of what looked like the next great flood, fans knew where it was going down and nothing was going to stop them from getting there.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA