Wolfmother with Silversun Pickups

Wolfmother with Silversun Pickups

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Two years ago I said to myself, “Wolfmother’s gonna get pretty friggen big.” But never would I think the day would come where I would see a Wolfmother billboard hovering above the giant guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas where they were scheduled to play that night with L.A.’s Silversun Pickups. This show marked the final performance of a six-date U.S. stint and the idea to go out with a bang was quite obvious in both bands’ performances.

Previous to the show, the lobby was crawling with little rock n’ roll kids who probably heard Wolfmother and then had an older brother—or most likely, their dad—say, “Dude, you should check out Zeppelin,” which would explain why each kid was wearing tight-ass jeans and a Zep t-shirt. On a side note, it’s these kids who will be making records five years from now, so the forecast looks partly cloudy with a good chance of rock. But all I knew was that these were fans, and not some out-of-towners who couldn’t get tickets to goddamn Cirque Du Soleil.

The 1500+ capacity venue, located inside the hippest casino in Vegas, is spacious and clean with pristine sound, plus all the signatures of the Hard Rock brand. So night after night bands can play among some easily forgettable memorabilia. It’s hard to imagine Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale peeing in his pants after seeing Badfinger’s gold record in a glass case, but you never know.

Silversun Pickups started at 9pm sharp. The crowd filed in close to see what this band opening for Wolfmother was all about. Lead singer Brian Aubert thanked everyone for coming and said it was their first time playing Vegas unless he “counts the time he paid the bar $50 to play.” It’s nice to know the tables have turned for them since their 2006 release Carnavas, which they were there to promote the hell out of. They played a majority of the album, including the hypnotic and bitter-sweet “Future Foe Scenario,” the fuzz-filled fantasy, “Dream at Tempo 119,” and perhaps the most perfect closing song in history, “Common Reactor.” It’s a song that deserves rolling credits, people hooking up and a flawless sunset until fade to black. The cheers were emphatic and honest, not polite and courteous, as SSPU’s intricate songwriting and amiable presence won them over fair and square.

After a short break, the lights dimmed and you could feel the electricity in the air as the trio from Melbourne, Australia took the stage. The intensity was almost unbearable, as if you were being tickled to death. They played LOUD, but crisp as a newly won hundred-dollar bill. The swanky rock n’ roll of “Colossal” brought the crowd to their knees, eyes clinched shut, fists in the air, wishing to the gods that this was 1971. Stockdale’s voice was pitch-perfect, hitting the highest of notes, diminishing any doubts that this band was legit. The band played pretty much their entire catalog, which includes the aptly titled 2006 full-length, Wolfmother, as well as a few EPs. The hour-long set ended to one of the most heart-felt cries for an encore I’ve heard in a long time. The crowd wanted more and they got it. Stockdale, drummer Myles Heskett and bassist/organist Chris Ross conjured up the energy for two more blistering cuts. The final, and perhaps best song, “Joker and the Thief,” somehow added more life to an already lethal crowd—there was even a pit, believe it or not. It was a freakishly enjoyable, powerful and unpretentious show that did justice to ghosts of rock’s past, which freckled the venue’s walls.

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