Not So Silent Night (NSSN) is Live 105’s “Annual Holiday Rock Show”, with 2015 bringing it back from a two-night event to a one night show. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I tend to avoid the massive outdoor Summer-style festivals (too hot, dirty, sweaty and crowded, though I did cover Live 105’s BFD this year – see Part 1 & Part 2), so I really enjoy these indoor ones that happen in the colder weather. With this one being an annual event, they are extremely well organized and somehow improve upon their formula year after year. The night kicked off early at about 5:30 and ran up towards midnight, so it was a very long evening of excellent artists doing their thing (with scant 5-minute breaks in-between as the did quick stage rotations). It was also an interesting mix of artists, with newer bands as well as some that have put in a lot more years, with Weezer topping the billing. All in all, it was a great line-up that flowed well and all performers seemed to step up and deliver to their own fans as well as making some new ones.
Who: Death Cab For Cutie
Who: Silversun Pickups
Who: X Ambassadors
Venue: Oracle Arena
Where: Oakland, California
Promoter: Live 105 & Live Nation
When: December 11, 2015
Seating: Photo Pass First Three Songs (Last Three for Foals; First Two for Halsey); otherwise backstage/sidestage
I arrived prior to doors and found a long, winding line-up of fans waiting to fill the standing room only floor in the large sports arena.
This particular event is handled differently from most that I cover (in that I do double duty in photographing these shows as well as writing about them). As a photographer, I shot the first three (except in the case of Foals, which was the last three) songs of each set, then I and the other photogs were taken backstage, so I missed more than half of the show, which handicaps my ability to fully write about each set (and even what I did see, I was focused primarily on photography). So my thoughts about the show itself will be limited for this feature, since I did not see a lot of it. So this is more of a review in photos than in-depth discussion of each set.
Since there are so many bands to cover, I’m doing things in reverse of my usual chronological order, instead beginning with the headliner and working backwards…
- Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar)
- Patrick Wilson (drums)
- Brian Bell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards)
- Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals)
With a few non-American bands on the bill Friday night, Weezer is most definitely homegrown, formed in Los Angeles in 1992, at the beginning of a real shift in music (wherein Nirvana closed the door on the 80s and propelled music in an entirely different direction around the time Weezer was formed).
Weezer had found tremendous success themselves, selling over 17 million albums worldwide.
Their self-titled (AKA The Blue Album), triple-platinum debut was released in 1994, and it featured many hit songs that have endured over a few decades now, including “Say It Ain’t So”, “Buddy Holly”, and “Undone (The Sweater Song)”.
The band went on a break following their second album, Pinkerton, which was released in 1996.
They came back with another eponymous release (AKA The Green Album) in 2001. Hits included “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun”. After two bass players came and went, current bassist Scott Shriner joined up for 2002’s Maladroit and 2005’s Make Believe. The latter included the hit “Beverly Hills”. 2008 saw the release of their third self-titled album (AKA The Red Album), and included the popular track “Pork and Beans”.
In 2009 and 2010, they released Raditude and Hurley respectively, and then Everything Will Be Alright in the End came out late last year.
I’m a fan of Weezer and this appearance definitely has inspired me to turn out for their next headlining appearance that I have a chance to turn out for next year. They sounded great and have a real authentic connection between their on stage personas and their music. Their catchy and infectious tunes endure, though they also performed the two new songs as well.
Below is the setlist for Weezer at Not So Silent Night 2015:
- My Name Is Jonas
- Hash Pipe
- Back to the Shack
- Do You Wanna Get High?
- Pork and Beans
- (If You’re Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To
- Thank God for Girls
- Say it Ain’t So
- The Good Life
- Perfect Situation
- Island in the Sun
- Undone – The Sweater Song
- Beverly Hills
- Buddy Holly
Below are some photos of Weezer performing on stage (click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):
Death Cab For Cutie
- Benjamin Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano)
- Nicholas Harmer (bass)
- Jason McGerr (drums)
Death Cab For Cutie are another American band (Seattle) from the 90s (post-Weezer in 1997). It began as a Ben Gibbard solo project that developed into a band, with the debut, Something About Airplanes, coming out in 1998.
2000 brought We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes and The Photo Album came in 2001. A prolific band, they released Transatlanticism in 2003, Plans in 2005, Narrow Stairs in 2008, and Codes and Keys in 2011. The latter featured their first number one single, “You Are a Tourist”.
Founding guitarist Chris Walla left the band following completion of their last album, Kintsugi, which came out earlier this year.
This was actually my first exposure to the popular band, and I came away impressed. They have such a distinct style and consistency (and intensity) with their music I can see how they’ve amassed such a loyal following.
Below is the setlist for Death Cab For Cutie at Not So Silent Night 2015:
- The New Year
- Crooked Teeth
- Doors Unlocked and Open
- The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
- Black Sun
- Little Wanderer
- I Will Possess Your Heart
- You Are a Tourist
- Soul Meets Body
- Bixby Canyon Bridge
Below are some photos of Death Cab For Cutie performing on stage (click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):
- Daniel Smith (lead vocals, keyboards, piano, percussion)
- Kyle Simmons (keyboards, percussion, bass, backing vocals)
- William Farquarson (bass, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals)
- Chris ‘Woody’ Wood (drums, percussion, programming, backing vocals)
- Charlie Barnes (touring member on guitar, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, bass, backing vocals)
Bastille is the one band that I’d seen live previously, having photographed and reviewed the special charity concert “Crisis Presents…” in London at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith in 2013.
Bastille is an English alternative group that started as a solo project by singer-songwriter Dan Smith and evolved into a band, forming in 2010 with Chris Wood, William Farquarson, and Kyle Simmons.
Their award-winning debut album, Bad Blood, was released in 2013 and they’ve sold millions of albums and toured with Muse.
They released a new single, “Hangin'”, in September and have a song on the Kill Your Friends soundtrack. Their second album is expected next year.
It was interesting seeing them two years after my first show shooting them in London… they’ve come a long way (and look older) and Dan Smith has really come into his own as a front man.
Below is the setlist for Bastille at Not So Silent Night 2015:
- Things We Lost in the Fire
- Bad Blood
- Laura Palmer
- Weight of Living, Pt. II
Below are some photos of Bastille performing on stage (click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):
- Brian Aubert (guitar, lead vocals)
- Christopher Guanlao (drums)
- Joe Lester (sound manipulation, keyboards, samples)
- Nikki Monninger (bass, backing vocals)
Like Weezer, Silversun Pickups hail from Los Angeles, though formed in 2002. The band saw half of their line-up change following the original inception.
They released their first EP Pikul in 2005 and their debut studio album, Carnavas, the following year. Their second (Swoon) and third (Neck of the Woods) came out in 2009 and 2012 respectively.
This past September saw the release of their latest work, Better Nature.
I was unfamiliar with the band prior to this show, and really loved their sound and music. They also seemed to have the most fun of any of the artists to perform Friday night. I’ll definitely continue to follow them – awesome band.
Below is the setlist for Silversun Pickups at Not So Silent Night 2015:
- The Pit
- Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)
- Panic Switch
- Friendly Fires
- Lazy Eye
Below are some photos of Silversun Pickups performing on stage (click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):