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How the EDGE Stole Christmas with Silversun Pickups, fun., Metric, Grouplove, Passion Pit, The Joy Formidable and IAMDYNAMITE

Friday

Dec 14, 2012 – 4:30 PM

1001 Performance Place
Grand Prairie, TX 75050 Map

  • Silversun Pickups
  • The Joy Formidable
  • Passion Pit
  • Metric
  • IAMDYNAMITE
  • GROUPLOVE
  • fun.

More Info

Silversun Pickups: In the brutally cold world of Big Rock Biz, there’s something very comforting about just knowing that a band like L.A.’s Silversun Pickups exists. That feeling derives from the group’s searingly sumptuous music, sure, but it has a lot to do with knowing their rather humble origins and super-admirable raison d’etre. Silversun Pickups, you see, rather than being just another fiercely determined young band willing to claw and scrap their way to the top of the rock heap, genuinely appear to be far more like a gang of real, true friends who happened, quite fortuitously, to meet as a result of their mutual love of — shock horror! — music, and who seem to enjoy each other’s company as much as they like playing their own brand of ravishing rock noise. And in fact, guitarist-singer Brian Aubert, bass player Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao and keyboardist Joe Lester are bona fide pals who’d played together or in mutual friends’ bands when they finally settled on a Silversun lineup and began playing shows at local clubs, which further broadened their innately formidable playing chops and established loving loyalties among a growing crop of seekers and sinners. Silversun’s initial forays into live performance weren’t exactly stunning achievements in stage artistry, according to Aubert. “In the beginning, we were just trying to figure out what we wanted to do, didn’t even know if this was what we wanted to do. But we were playing clubs while we were learning – and I was learning to be a frontman all of a sudden.” “But after a little while we started honing in on where things were going and what we liked and didn’t like,” says Aubert. “It was like trial by fire, playing on stage all the time. It was scary, but you learn fast that way.” Their initially haphazard performances didn’t phase their growing core of devotees, who seemed to easily grasp the inner grace of Aubert’s plaintively savage songs about the whys and wherefores of love lost and found, wrecked loyalties and fear of genetically inherited failure genes. These fans didn’t mind that the band’s otherwise wickedly pretty tunes’ delivery was a bit rough-edged, or that Aubert was initially painfully shy in front of a mike; it was obvious that Aubert and co’s. desire knew no bounds. The band lived to play, and play they did, at numerous dates at many of the most important L.A. clubs, which found their stage sets growing more confidently not cocky but in greater command of their playing prowess. Aubert’s guitar was a rapidly developing feral beast of tight chipchop splendor and near-Hendrixian fuzzy howl in songs that seemed to reference the spare, driving cool of Neu while injecting a barely constrained glee – something like youthful romance, in the more tormented My Bloody Valentine way – into great walls of shredding white noise and a big throbbing rhythm section. The interplay of Aubert’s guitar with Lester’s spidery/splintery keyboards on songs like “Three Seed” made their combined effect resemble an enormous shiny machine being launched into the farthest reaches of the solar system. Ex-Pine Marten keyboardist Lester was an important addition to the band, says Aubert, “because a) he was family — we didn’t want anybody we didn’t know, like take out an ad in L.A. Weekly: ‘Must not wear cowboy hats.’ Joe is like having a guy who’s not a keyboard keyboard player -- not a scientist, but like an orchestrator. He does things that really trip out the guitar, like sample it and make sounds that you can’t really tell what it is.” “Or we’ll use our voices with something from Joe, as just a sonic element,” says Monninger Guanlao adds, “People come up to us and they’ll be like, ‘Dude, how’d you do that sound on the guitar?’ or ‘How’d you do that sound on the keyboard?’ and it’s like, ‘No, the guitar player wasn’t doing that, neither was the keyboardist.’” Yet Silversun’s secret weapons are the achingly potent melodies of their songs, which poke their lovely, shy heads out and ultimately proclaim their power in rare shades of melancholic ardor. While so many bands oft-claim supreme melody as the underpinning of their noise, with the Pickups it can claim moral superiority: Silversun radiates palpably great melodies that – the real test – simply won’t leave you alone no matter how you try to shoo them away. That melodic/toughness no doubt encouraged Dangerbird Records to sign Silversun Pickups for an EP, called Pikul (pronounced pie-kul), a six-song set crammed with polished versions of many live favorites such as the growlingly ethereal “Kissing Families” and “…All the Go Inbetweens.” These songs sealed in the love among Silversun Pickups’ L.A. fans and critics, and their subsequent mounting acclaim led the band to undertake an increasingly heavy touring schedule, which found them playing alongside Brendan Benson, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Dead Meadow and Two Gallants, and they returned home to record, Carnavas, their full-length debut for Dangerbird (July 25, 2006). Produced by Dave Cooley (J Dilla, Rolling Blackouts), engineered by Tom Biller (Sean Lennon, Jon Brion) and mixed by Tony Hoffer (Beck, The Kooks, Belle and Sebastian), the album reveals the Pickups in a full flowering of their considerable melodic, textural and rhythmic gifts, with 11 dark/light songs about "Melatonin,” “Little Lover’s So Polite,” “Future Foe Scenarios” and “Well Thought Out Twinkles,” among other provocatively ambiguous themes. The album rages with a kind of mixed emotion well matched to those themes, a vibrating compound of feral cries amid tender harmony, resonating powerfully with heavily filtered guitar squawk, hovering keyboard clouds, and bass & drums that often seem to lurch their way into divinely propulsive beats. For the new disc, Silversun Pickups got to play in the studio, which they’d never done before, and, at producer Cooley’s insistence, they got to take their time. Says Aubert, “We wanted the EP and the record to be two different sort of things, and we knew that we didn’t want the same songs. Basically our live sound was so loud and big, and before we just sort of documented it -- Pikul didn’t sound like us live; even though we essentially recorded itlive.” “We think of records and live shows being two different sorts of worlds,” he continues. “Ironically, in the studio, getting really specific about sounds -- how they cut through -- made us sound as big as it is onstage.” Cooley proved an inspiring force for the band, sometimes if only to affirm their belief in doing things their own way. Says Lester, “Sometimes he’d push and push, and sometimes suggest a bunch of different ideas, and all it did was steel our resolve. It was almost better that way, because it just reaffirmed what we know is the best way to do it.” Aubert: “In pre-production meetings, we discussed the structure, for example, but he brought out ideas that were already clicking in our heads -- we would change things that we didn’t like and had been too lazy to change, or just hadn’t thought about. Or completely battle him and realize, wow, we really do mean this. Having someone who’s antagonizing you and you have to defend your choice, when you didn’t have to defend it before, you realize you actually really believe in that.” Says Guanlao, “Before that experience, we were very organic about how we got a song going and finished; we would never really think about it too much, we did it how it felt. And then Dave came in and we really had to focus on things, just a measure or a little beat or whatever. Aubert: “He’s amazing, because he’d push you and push you, but he’d be the first to pull the plug. I remember I’d been singing for days and days, trying to get a track right, and he’d say, ‘No, man, just stop. You’re tired.’ And I’m like ‘No, man, let me drink some more whiskey!’ And he’d be ‘Nope.’ He’d just push the stop button and say ‘It’s not right, it’s not working, it’s too job-like.’” Not just the songs but their performance and their very sound were all critical factors in the album’s production. Says Lester: “Two measures in on a take, Tom would be like, ‘Snare’s out of tune.’ Stop everything, and we’re like, ‘Really, you can even hear that?’ And then we could hear it. It changed the vibe, and it sounds like the bass and drums are almost one thing. That made it seem way more solid.” The proof’s in the pudding, and now all you need to do is listen. And all Silversun Pickups need to do is figure out how to transfer the album’s splendorous riot of beauty onto the concert stage — and deal with the acclaim that’ll inevitably follow. But that shouldn’t prove difficult for these dedicated friends, who’re happy to have found each other and make, almost like frosting on the cake, magnificent music together.

The Joy Formidable: While the haunting voice of lead singer Ritzy Bryan might be the first thing people notice about English alt-rock band, The Joy Formidable, her vocals compliment the grandiose guitar, bass, and drums that have made their music such a hit. Acclaimed tour dates with Passion Pit and Temper Trap have added to the popularity achieved by from The Joy Formidable's debut album, The Big Roar. Fans can catch these live performances on The Joy Formidable's 2011 tour dates across the US and UK.

The Joy Formidable was formed by guitarist and vocalist Ritzy Bryan and bassist Rhydian Dafydd in 2007. The two had previously played in the band Tricky Nixon and decided to form a similar project once the band broke up. The duo began develop a sweeping sound offset by grungy guitars and a fast double bass pedal. The Joy Formidable began their rise to popularity with their second single, "Austere", in 2008, which led to international tour dates and a close relationship with electropop band, Passion Pit. After years of extensive touring, The Joy Formidable released their debut album, Big Roar, in 2011 to rave reviews and praise from notable members of the music industry. The album quickly shot to the top ten of the Heatseekers' chart in the US and also did very well in the UK.

The group's shining debut has led to even more tour dates in 2011, which are making their way through North America as summer winds to a close. The Joy Formidable will return to the UK in late September and early October, before heading back to the US to finish out the tour mid-November. For the full list of The Joy Formidable's 2011 tour dates, just check Eventful.

Passion Pit: The Boston, MA-based Passion Pit began as a one-man project of singer and songwriter Michael Angelakos to produce a Valentine's Day gift for his girlfriend. The gift, an EP entitled Chunk of Change, soon wound up in the hands of friends and acquaintances, who were enthralled with the work. Eventually, Passion Pit became not only a vehicle for the romantic expressions of Angelakos' heart but a full-fledged band -- at least for live gigs -- and opened for a number of well-known artists including Death Cab for Cutie. This momentum led to label interest, and in 2008 the Frenchkiss label picked up Chunk of Change for re-release, even going so far as to tack on two bonus tracks. A full-length from Passion Pit was in the planning stages and a 2009 release date was said to be in the cards.

Metric: When you hand over your money for a concert ticket, what are you really paying for: some idea of the performer you’ve gleaned from gazing longingly at album covers and compulsively clicking YouTube videos, or the performer as they choose to express themselves on that given day? Is the consumer entitled to a certain expectation of the performance — a satisfaction-guaranteed procession of “the hits”— or should the artist interpret the fan’s investment as a vote of confidence, that the fan is willing to follow their every whim? In other words, is the customer really king, relegating the artist to the role of a court jester whose sole purpose is to entertain on demand? Or does the artist, elevated up on the stage and paid for the privilege, still dictate the terms of the contract? For Metric frontwoman Emily Haines, all these questions came to a head on the evening of March 30, 2008 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. She was all set to perform the sombre piano-based ballads that comprised the two releases from her solo venture, The Soft Skeleton: Knives Don’t Have Your Back and What Is Free To a Good Home? — much of which were written following a time of great sadness and personal loss. But having performed those songs so many times since Knives’ September 2006 release, Haines had an epiphany during that Phoenix show — she didn’t want to be sad anymore. And she didn’t want to play those songs. So, about 40 minutes into the show, she stopped “Dr. Blind” mid-verse and said just that: “I don’t want to play these songs anymore.” Instead, she spent the next half hour talking to her fans, encouraging them to join her at the piano on stage and, for the grand finale, pulling a kid from the audience for an impromptu duet on Metric’s “Live It Out.” She was up for anything — except playing those songs. Some disappointed Soft Skeleton fans in the crowd probably thought the show was a trainwreck. But for Haines herself, it was about getting her mind back on track — to the business of completing Metric’s long-awaited fourth album, Fantasies. “Writing for me comes from a process of trying to piece things together,” says Haines. “The function of music in my life is to help me understand what the hell is happening. This new record was about ending the fragmentation of my existence. Everything in the world right now — all the technology, the way we listen to music or watch films — everything has changed so much in my lifetime. People are allowed to have multiple identities — you’re somebody online, you’re somebody else in public — in multiple dimensions, scattered across the world… I wanted to bring all that into one place, one band, one record… I want to be one person.”

But in order to come together, Metric first had to drift apart. After touring non-stop between 2003’s breakthrough release Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? and 2005’s frenzied follow-up Live It Out, the four members of Metric sought sanctuary in sideline pursuits — Haines threw herself into the Soft Skeleton and took a soul-cleansing sojourn to Argentina; guitarist/co-founder Jimmy Shaw built a neighborhood recording facility, Giant Studio, on Toronto’s burgeoning Ossington Avenue strip with his neighbor Sebastian Grainger; while the Oakland, California-based rhythm section of bassist Joshua Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key toured their own garage-rock offshoot, Bang Lime. “We didn't have a moment where we stopped,” says Haines. “When I look back at the touring, it really was like 300 days a year for those three years [between 2003 and 2006]. After that, I thought if we went straight into recording the next album right away we would end up just writing about being in a band on the road because that's all we had experienced. We had to reconnect with our humanity first." Says Shaw: “We allowed this record to take a year and a half whereas for Live It Out we didn’t let it take more than 10 weeks. We just allowed it to take its own process, and whatever that process was going to be, it was going to be, and we were relaxed about it. We wrote when we could — we would get together for a month and then take a couple months to do our own personal shit again.” Formed in Toronto but, at various times, based in Montreal, London, New York and L.A., Metric boasts the sort of history that requires one of those connect-the-dots redlined maps you see in an Indiana Jones movie — and the story of Fantasies is no different. First stop: Bear Creek, located outside Seattle, Washington.

“The four us went out into the woods as a band with no expectations and did whatever we wanted” Haines recalls. “We were coming from London so it was a serious contrast - it felt like we had left civilization and all that mattered was music again. We wrote a lot of songs there including ‘Gimme Sympathy’, ‘Collect Call’... and 'Black Sheep', which isn't on the album 'cause it has a life of its own. When I listen to the finished record, I feel like all its warmth comes from that place in the woods.” In their recent episode of the Bruce McDonald-produced IFC documentary series, The Rawside Of…, Metric can be seen performing these songs in stripped-down, acoustic versions, and following the taut, barb-wired rock of Live It Out, it would’ve made total sense for the band to pursue a simple, back-to-basics approach further. But as the scene shifted over the course of 2007 and 2008 — back to Toronto and then New York, with Haines’ Argentina retreat in between — so too did the shape of the album. And through rigorous road-testing of the new songs, the mercurial material gradually solidified into a singular sound. “We toured the new songs a lot,” Shaw says, “because you might play something 30 times live before you start to realize, ‘Why did I get bored every single time I got to the second verse?’ and ‘Why does the ending always suck?’ The songs went through a lot of surgery, and we really feel like we sculpted them and got the best out of them. I felt like I could hear the sound of the whole thing in my head — it was really big and really dreamy. There were images of chasing invisible butterflies and pterodactyls coming out of their shells and flying off prehistoric cliffs. The sound of the record was more based on the idea of soaring pterodactyls than on that of another band, or some ’70s sound.” Adds Haines, “For me, the major influences on the record were the places we wrote it: Bear Creek, this utopian farmhouse studio, and then our own studio in Toronto, which definitely brought in the electro, dance and rock elements because the city feels so good right now and so many of our musician friends were around. And then for me, being in Buenos Aires, most of the songs I brought to this record came out of being in exile with just a piano and a guitar. And then in the final stages, mixing at Electric Lady in NYC brought everything around to where we first met Josh and Joules.” But Fantasies is not so much about where Metric has been as where it takes you. While Haines’ missives from inside the VIP room (as cutting as ever on motorik rockers “Gold Guns Girls” and “Front Row”) would suggest the titular Fantasies are of the unattainable (or even undesirable) variety, the album’s gilded surfaces and textural density — a heady amalgam of psychedelia, disco, electronic and rock — supports Shaw’s assertion that the title is meant to evoke a certain “dream state” quality. And no song better encapsulates the utter surreality of dreaming — that peculiar combination of bliss and terror — than Fantasies’ massive glam-rockin’ closer “Stadium Love,” a song meant to be heard in the building it’s named after, but whose candy-coated “ooh-ooh-ie-ooh” chorus just might distract you from all the crazy shit happening during the verses in between. Haines explains: “I had just gotten back from Coachella, and I walked into the studio and noticed on the bulletin board that Joules had written ‘spider vs bat,’ i think he had been obsessively watching all these National Geographic animals-fighting-each-other-videos in his hotel room. For me, that phrase triggered an entire narrative that was about a gladiator-style enormo-dome where everything turns in on itself, with every form of aggression on display for spectators: monster trucks ramming into each other, bull fighting, sweaty men wrestling. And then you have these animals completely disconnected from the logic of their natural habitat, so you have a swan pecking the shit out of an elephant and pigs biting the necks out of tigers, and bats attacking spiders. And then in the seats, the spectators are kicking the shit out of each other too. There’s this completely blurred line between spectator and participant, and we’re all trapped in this fucked up Noah’s Ark. The images came to me all at once, and I wrote the lyrics on the spot.” And so an album that began its life as an acoustic jam session in the bucolic woods outside Seattle ends in a cartoon orgy of bloodshed in some mythical arena that exists in the darkest recesses of Emily Haines’ mind. Each extreme represents a fantasy in their own right: the ideal of hermetic artistic purity versus the spectacle of excess and decadence. Being yourself versus being what they want you to be. Emily Haines stared down these very polarities on her own that night at the Phoenix, but with Fantasies, Metric are now free to define their reality on their own terms. So when, amid the daydream electro of “Gimme Sympathy,” Haines invokes that age-old existential dilemma — “Who would you rather be: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” — it’s only because she already knows the answer: neither.

IAMDYNAMITE: Big things come in small packages for IAMDYNAMITE (Formerly Mahoney) as they come armed with a simple guitar and drum kit, but pack clever harmonies, dancy guitar riffs, fist-pounding drums and undeniable dance hooks to leave an explosive fallout.

The Raleigh, NC based duo featuring Chris Martin and Chris Phillips have been cutting their teeth in the indie rock scene of their native Detroit for years but wanted to separate themselves with their own unique brand of music that presents itself as the armed robbery of dance rock.

The band caught the eye of their current producer and bass player of platinum rock act Blue October, Matt Noveskey, who produced the band's first EP in 2008 alongside Chuck Alkazian at the world famous Pearl Studios in Detroit. Noveskey fueled the duo with the power and confidence to beat down a few doors and are currently positioning themselves for their ambitious full length debut, to be recorded this fall at the legendary Pedernales studios in Austin, Texas.

IAMDYNAMITE's brand of distinct sound is filled with sharp, calculated guitar lines coupled with explosive, driving drum rhythms. If IAMDYNAMITE'S sound held a ruckus of a dinner party, Weezer, The White Stripes and Matt and Kim would all be seated at the table.

Even though the band is approaching the industry at blazing speed, the duo is known for their party-like live shows with a huge sound that beckons for fist-pounding, ass-shaking and sweaty high fives. Both Chris's have already filmed a couple of entertaining music videos ("Turn Off The Lights" and "Ms. Jones") that were Directed by Marty "LAZER" Stano. The videos have won several awards including Make a Star's Best Music Video two times in a row, and second place in the Super Shorts UK Film Festival among others.

With a full length release slated for early 2011 full of explosive songs and heavy touring to support it, the future looks very bright for the duo who claim, quite simply...IAMDYNAMITE.

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