I arrived at the Empty Bottle just as The Kingdom was wrapping up their set. From the Bottle’s side room, it sounded interesting enough, and considering how many people asked me throughout the night, “hey, did you catch the Kingdom?” they must have been pretty good.
The Silversun Pickups were clearly the draw of the night, as the Bottle was completely packed in time for their set. Their mainstream, 90s alt-rock sound brought in a rather mainstream audience, including four frat-types who had their arms around each other’s shoulders and their fists in the air throughout the show. Unfortunately, the sound wasn’t ideal as the lyrics got pretty washed out in the guitar fuzz, making it harder to really assess how I felt about the band. Overall, I found myself feeling rather “eh” about their music, finding myself nodding my head only to the one track of theirs I knew, “Kissing Families.” I did greatly enjoy watching the drummer of the band though, who had a cymbal set up about six feet in the air that he had to reach up to hit while drumming. Cute.
Even though Viva Voce was the headlining act, about 1/3 or more of the audience headed out after the Pickups finished up. It was their loss, as Viva Voce totally exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately, the reduced crowd clearly left Viva Voce a bit demoralized as they skipped out on an encore that had been spotted on their set list, but still their performance was worth the stay, if only for the killer guitar playing and understated sex appeal of singer/guitarist Anita Robinson. Kicking off with an unexpected extended jam, Anita leaned into her guitar and worked the distortion while husband Kevin provided the energetic drumming (sans 6-foot high cymbal). Seriously, I think everyone in the audience, male and female, quickly developed a major crush on Anita. The band played a very short set lifted mostly from their latest, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, ending on a high note with the crowd favorite, “We Don’t Fuck Around.” I’d like to see what they could really do if they had the full support of a packed crowd behind them. The Silversun Pickups may have the buzz, but Viva Voce was definitely the better band of the night.
Photos by Kirstie Shanley, check out the complete photoset here.