"Wow! Turn around! That's your fucking city!" Like Silversun Pickups singer/guitarist Brian Aubert, it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the Manhattan skyline view at Williamsburg Waterfront. While concerts by the water have been taking place for over a year, this summer sees the park hosting a more mainstream schedule of alt-rock favorites past and present.
Which is a good way to describe Silversun Pickups, the L.A. band that evokes the wash of guitars and vocal squeals of the Smashing Pumpkins (complete with a female bassist...how 90s retro!). The group blasts out such a pleasantly ferocious wave of sound it's easy to overlook the music's occasional sameness ("Panic Switch" and "Lazy Eye" being the exceptions...and the show's closers). Still, the gravity and epic-ness of the band's music fit the scene perfectly.
Against Me!, meanwhile, seemed like an odd match. Over the years, the band's folk-punk assault has slowly morphed into a more classic rock sound, rounded out by glam guitars and Springsteen-esque musings. But even now, the group works best in confined spaces (like their 2007 opening show at the then-new Music Hall of Williamsburg). Whereas the Pickups are epic, Against Me! is succinct and direct, built for stage-diving and sweaty clubs. But that's not to say "Rapid Decompression," "Pints of Guiness Make You Strong" and "Don't Lose Touch" didn't inspire some rowdiness—or that new AM member Franz Nicolay (ex-The Hold Steady) wasn't having the time of his life on stage. (The Henry Clay People, another retro-minded, 70s-influenced guitar act, opened.) —Kirk Miller