When a show on a weekday sells out, you know that it’s probably a big deal. People like to sleep, they have work the next day; it’s so much easier to stay in than to go out. So the fact that Silverstein, a band that’s been around for over fifteen years and has seen the rise, fall and (possible rise?) of the alternative scene can still drive a sold out crowd to one place for a few hours on a night in the middle of the work week is a pretty big deal. Despite the fact that this was an anniversary tour for the band’s debut record, When Broken Is Easily Fixed (released back in 2003 via Victory Records), people didn’t just stay for the purpose of seeing a fan-favorite record; Berkeley’s Cornerstone venue stayed packed until just after 11 PM, when the band finished with a sing-along filled rendition of one of their biggest hits, “My Heroine”.
Silverstein have been in the post-hardcore game for quite some time now, and it’s clear that they know how to put on a show, manage a crowd, keep the energy up and build a packed bill of artists that leaves people wanting more. Support was first provided by Capstan, one of the newest signees to Santa Monica based label Fearless Records. Their 30-minute opening set proved that they’re a band to watch in the coming years. Even with only one single currently out on Fearless (“Stars Before The Sun”), the band already have an extensive catalogue of albums and EPs under their belt, so it’s clear that all those years of writing and performing have been paying off.
The next support act on the bill was As Cities Burn, a band that gained a serious following within the post-hardcore scene before breaking up temporarily in 2009. Their reunion has clearly made them stronger than ever, as fans piled up to the front, screaming back every word of tracks from their back catalogue, playing post-hardcore tracks with the energy of a hardcore band. Back at the end of last year, the band released a brand new track (their first new piece of music in ten years) upon announcing their signing with Equal Vision Records. It appears that fans were only given a taste of what to expect from the band in the coming months with their opening set at this show, and they ate up every moment of it.
Hawthorne Heights, a band that’s been considered a staple within the post-hardcore/”emo” scene since the release of their 2004 debut, The Silence In Black and White, held the main opening slot for this tour. From the second they launched into “This Is Who We Are” from the album If Only You Were Lonely, any common passerby would be able to see why. Despite the “emo” stigma that those outside the scene seem to hold surrounding the band, Hawthorne Heights still have a highly devoted fan base (the band just released a new album last year called Bad Frequencies). Crowdsurfers catapulted through the air as the band played what could be dubbed as one of their best shows to date; everything was on point in terms of sound, performance, and crowd interaction. A number of hits from the band’s catalogue were performed, closing of course with a song that practically begs for a sing-along, “Ohio Is For Lovers” (admit it. You still know all of the words.)
Silverstein took the stage at 9:30 PM sharp, and launched headfirst into “Smashed Into Pieces” from When Broken Is Easily Fixed. Vocalist Shane Told really didn’t waste any time between songs, and the band powered through track after track of their fiercely powerful debut album. The fact that these songs still resonate with fans after all of these years, enough to sell out the room they were playing in, has to feel very special. The last time Silverstein played in the Bay Area was on a co-headlining run with Tonight Alive last year at the Boz Scaggs-owned venue Slim’s. But there was something in particularly special about this performance. It may have been the way that every member of Silverstein commanded their instruments. It may have been the way that Told delivered every vocal line. Or it could have been the way that the crowd hung onto every single lyric, whether it was from the Broken album, or from the second-half of the set comprised solely of tracks from the band’s illustrious career like “Discovering The Waterfront”, “Smile In Your Sleep”, “California”, “Massachusetts”, and many more.
After closing with “Discovering the Waterfront”, from their sophomore album of the same name, Told returned to the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand to perform two closing numbers: “Aquamarine”, from their most recent album, 2018’s Dead Reflection, and “My Heroine” from Discovering the Waterfront. The latter song showed the rest of the band (drummer Paul Koehler, bassist Billy Hamilton, and guitarists Paul Marc Rousseau and Josh Bradford) return to the stage for a climactic finale. As the song came to a close and only one chorus remained, the band stopped playing and let the packed house finish things off for them. The result was a moment in which I remember why I cover live music in the first place: you get to witness people coming together for a few hours, forgetting about their bullshit, and connecting over something that could move mountains. In this sense, Silverstein’s Berkeley headlining show was yet another achievement in their incredible career.