SSLYBY rocks, surprises during June performance

The band performed June 20 at Rose Music Hall

“We’ve been playing at this place for 12 years,” says Philip Dickey, lead singer for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. “We want this to be the best one.”

The alt-indie band graced the stage at Rose Music Hall June 20. Hailing from Springfield has made Columbia a major tour stop for them in the past. It also made the venue list for their current tour, which was incited by the release of their June 2 album, “The High Country.”

Will Knauer, SSLYBY’s lead guitarist, admits their new LP is edgier than their previous albums: “I think each album we’ve kind of approached differently. This one we wanted to capture the energy of when we just get together in a room and play.”

He says the sound is supposed to reflect the energy they emit when playing live – something that is hard to capture during recording.

“We wanted to release an album that showcases another side of us,” he says.

Although “The High Country” does exhibit more drive and punk-infused tunes, it still does not do justice to the engulfing verve the band exudes while performing.

When asked what concert-goers could expect from the show, Knauer had fantasies aplenty.

“One hundred percent crystalline magic and newly discovered colors and sounds,” he described. “It’ll be like a science fiction book for a performance.”

Unfortunately, while the band didn’t transport us to different planets or leave us awestruck by any other quasi-hallucinogenic gags, they certainly did not disappointed. Dickey’s voice, which sounds so shy and timid in a digital format, is unwavering perfection.

During one number, he cut out a punk-rock scream that ignited the audience. Their guitar work was on point and cohesive as well, with extra electric static lacing it magnificently. The vivacity and adrenaline was palpable.

With that much noise and commotion, it is easy for bands to get lost in the hypnotic waves of colliding rock, which makes for a pretty monotonous experience for the audience. SSLYBY are wizards of versatility, though, as one can gather from the gamut of genres and styles they explore in their various albums. They mixed old Shins-like favorites, such as “Oregon Girl” (which they dedicated to their friends for their four-year anniversary), with new hits, like the fun and catchy “Full Possession of All Her Powers.”

They also switched up their respective duties. Halfway through the concert, Dickey magically took over the drums while drummer Jonathan James showed off his guitar skills. Knauer led the way through a number of songs, and James and Dickey chucked the mic back and forth a few times during multiple tunes.

By the time the encore came around, the band had loosened up and laid hella beats on the drums in between their last two songs. James and Knauer shredded their guitars. The whole venue thrummed with electric power punk-esque noise, leaving the crowd cheering and whistling. Top that over a killer, lyrical bassline and catchy melodies (SSLYBY seem to be boss at those), and you, indeed, are left with an astronomical amount of awe.

For a band with a name that started as a joke, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin leaves a lasting impression; if not through their LPs, then definitely live.

Knauer sums it up well: “We have a chance to make people feel good, and it makes us feel good.”

Those are good vibrations I will be feeling until their next visit to Columbia.

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