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The Staying Power that is Silverstein

The Staying Power that is Silverstein

The chilly, pre-snow evening on Jan 12, 2019 was not nearly enough to keep fans away from seeing Silverstein perform When Broken Is Easily Fixed in its entirety at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. In celebration of their 15th Anniversary as a band, Silverstein broke with tradition and created a unique setlist, incorporating the album and most of their greatest hits; creating a performance that was both artistic and dazzling.
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The evening started with punk/hardcore rockers, Capstan who hail from Florida and just recently signed with Fearless Records. Band members Anthony DeMario (Vocals), Harrison Bormann (Guitar), Andrew Bozymowski  (Bass/Vocals), Joseph Mabry (Guitar), and Scott Fisher (Percussion) wasted no time revving up fans with their insanely energetic guitar riffs, gut-punching vocals, and percussion that artfully punctuated their lyrics. For a hard rock band, they had great vocal harmonies between band members which complimented their clever and beautiful guitar lines.

They really shined when performing their brand new single “Stars Before The Sun,” a song which truly demonstrates their maturation as a band in the throes of defining a signature sound.  Although show attendance is typically a bit sparse early in the evening, Capstan had much of the crowd pounding their fists and singing along with the band to their popular “Wax Poetic” by the end of their set. DeMario thanked Silverstein for their support and said, “This is truly a living dream and I want you all to know how much it means to us.”

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As Cities Burn picked up on that momentum and exploded onto the stage with a setlist that included songs from their three albums: Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest, Come Now Sleep, and Hell Or High Water. Nashville natives Terry Bonnette Jr. (Vocals), Cody Bonnette (Vocals, Guitar), Aaron Lunsford (Percussion), Stephen Keech (Bass), Hunter Walls (Guitar) covered the entire stage with an energy and domination that rocked the walls of the venue. The group formed in 2002 and has had several lineup changes over the years, including a couple of breakups. However, this current lineup is well balanced and the guys had great chemistry.

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The band’s sound is comprised of so many musical elements that make it satisfying on several levels. Their lyrics are intimate and seem to be created from very personal, emotional life experiences. The alternating clean and screaming vocals are prolifically arranged and very complimentary to each other. Instrumentally, the guitar, bass and percussion intertwine masterfully and move forward at a frenetic, driving pace forcing the crowd to respond in kind.

With each song, the band’s energy and quality of sound escalated with one of their gems being their most recent single, “2020AD.” Fans were noticeably responsive to this new creation and showed the band a lot of love for the new music. As Cities Burn gave the impression that they have redefined themselves and are a cohesive, talented group dedicated to achieving much success.

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When bands perform, I love watching the crowd’s reaction throughout the night; and when Hawthorne Heights entered the stage, it was immediately evident that the crowd not only knew the band well, but some were there to primarily see them. Proudly hailing from Dayton, OH, Hawthorne Heights consists of JT Woodruff (Vocals/Guitar), Matt Ridenour (Bass/Vocals), Mark McMillon (Guitar/Vocals), and Chris Popadak (Percussion). Always in their hearts is former rhythm guitarist Casey Calvert who passed away in 2007.

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Hawthorne Heights is a rock band that has an almost cult-like following that has been building since the band’s formation in 2001 due to relentless touring and an output of six masterful albums. The band’s 2004 release, The Silence in Black and White as well as their 2006 studio album, If Only You Were Lonely both achieved Gold Certification, as did their single “Saying Sorry.”

JT Woodruff has a calm, relaxed presence on stage which isn’t common for lead singers of post-hardcore/screamo/alternative rock bands. However, it works and gives this group a distinguishing sound and stage presence. They kicked off their set with “This Is Who We Are,” which ignited the crowd and prompted the crowd surfers to start their never-ending rides to the stage.

They then followed with their single “Bad Frequencies” from their brand-new album of the same name. I was particularly captivated by both “Bad Frequencies” and “Niki FM” which are two songs new listeners should hear if they want to get a sense of how versatile this band is. Hawthorne Heights’ backing vocal harmonies add a rich layer to the clean and screaming lead vocals. Frequent percussive tempo changes and different drumming techniques drive the songs forward in interesting and new ways. The band’s guitar lines are especially diverse, sometimes being propulsive and heart-pounding, while at other times providing soft, acoustic melodies that are quite beautiful.

The band regularly spoke with the audience throughout their set, and a common theme was their desire to provide songs that provided comfort and hope to listeners. Woodruff stated, “We write songs for people going through rough times. If you are hurting or alone, we need you here. Let’s all be nicer to one another and enjoy the music together.” Fans took to the message and sang with the band throughout the rest of the set, especially with their most popular song, “Ohio Is For Lovers.”

Hawthorne Heights is a band well worth checking out and I encourage you to catch them during their upcoming tour.

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If I could pick only one word to accurately describe the feelings that emanated from Silverstein and all of the fans at The Starland Ballroom that night, it would be ELATION. Never before have I seen a group so happy, so inspired, and so truly in love with what they were doing on stage. Vocalist Shane Told, Drummer Paul Koehler, Bassist Billy Hamilton, Guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau, and Guitarist Josh Bradford set the bar higher for all bands today in the way that they designed and performed their unique setlist, which celebrates their fifteen successful years as a band that has sold over one million albums worldwide to an adoring, dedicated fan base.

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Their performance was broken into two sets: the first covering their first full-length debut album When Broken Is Easily Fixed in its entirety; the second consisting of their most popular and well received songs. Each set had its own unique feel to it. As they performed the album from beginning to end, it came off as an artistic gestalt … kind of like a work of art. They moved through each song in order and kept conversation to a minimum. They did, however, mention their sudden realization that the album had a “shitload of violin” and took a moment to recognize their touring violinist. As they worked their way through the album, they added little nuances between songs, and other than the constant barrage of crowd surfers, active mosh pits, and flying water bottles, it felt like we were listening to their artistic expression of the album’s concept. It was extremely moving.

After a short intermission, the band came back out on stage in a change of clothes that signified we were in for a different sort of concert experience. The second half of their performance covered all fan favorites and it had the feel of an all-out rock party; a complete celebration of the band. Songs like “The Afterglow,” “California,” “Retrograde,” and “Lost Positives” (to name just a few) were performed with unparalleled energy that electrified the crowd and created a fan frenzy. There wasn’t one person in the crowd that wasn’t singing, fist punching, crowd surfing, or moving to the beat.

Shane danced around the stage grinning like he won the lottery, screaming and singing with his powerhouse voice. He gave Billy Hamilton a drink mid-song, and covered the entire stage with reckless abandon. His vocals sounded stronger than ever and you feel them in your chest when he sings. Josh, Paul and Billy also played with an enthusiasm and passion that could be seen in their jumps all over the stage and heard in the heavy, hardcore rock sound they’ve perfected over the years. They were even throwing and catching picks with each other as they played. Paul tied it all together with his amazing chops on the drums, maintaining a speed throughout the performance that was totally impressive.  It honestly felt like an all-out party on the stage!

From the photo pit perspective, it’s easy to tell which bands truly treasure their fan connection, especially seeing their facial expressions and interactions with the crowd from the front lines. Silverstein is one of the bands that doesn’t take it for granted and feeds off of the fan energy throughout their performance. Shane was egging on the crowd to form a crazier mosh/dance pit and he high-fived countless crowd surfers who were lucky enough to land right in front of him.

Two full sets, consisting of almost two hours of continuous music and a lot of emotion … left the audience exhausted yet still wanting more. When Shane announced they were about to play their final song “Discovering The Waterfront,” fans looked surprised that the time flew by so fast. The night was that amazing!

Whether I take pictures or not, I’m always at a concert. I’ve seen many bands dozens of times and I always wonder just how difficult it is for them to create their setlists. Every fan wants to hear a different combination of songs and I’m sure the band members want to play what’s most meaningful to them. It’s impossible to satisfy everybody. Most bands tend to settle on setlists consisting of a delicate balance of new material and crowd favorites, and they play those same songs at every concert. It can become a bit too predictable for concert-goers who attend multiple shows by the same band. We do like to hear song variety from concert to concert.

Silverstein gets that. It was so refreshing to attend this unique show that combined their rendition of a beloved album along with a dynamic celebration of their greatest hits.

Silverstein shows that they are still at the top of their game after fifteen years with the quality of their performances, their ability to continually produce awesome, new music (make sure you listen to “The Afterglow,” “Aquamarine” and all of Dead Reflection), and their willingness improve upon and mix up the concert experience for their fans And THAT … is the staying power that is Silverstein.

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See full gallery of the night!

Set 1: When Broken Is Easily Fixed

Smashed Into Pieces/Red Light Pledge/Giving Up/November/Last Days of Summer/Bleeds No More/Hear Me Out/The Weak and the Wounded/Wish I Could Forget You/When Broken Is Easily Fixed (with Anthony DeMario of Capstan)

Set 2: Greatest Hits

The Afterglow/Smile In Your Sleep/Call It Karma/California/Massachusetts/ Texas Mickey/Retrograde/Lost Positives/Discovering The Waterfront

Catch this tour:

JAN15
Charlotte, NC
JAN16
Wed 6 PM CSTBrandon Scott Hanks is going
Nashville, TN
JAN17
St. Louis, MO
JAN18
Milwaukee, WI
JAN19
Minneapolis, MN
JAN20
The Garrick
JAN23
Calgary, AB, Canada
JAN25
Vancouver, BC, Canada
JAN26
Sat 7 PM PST1,076 guests
Portland, OR
JAN27
Seattle, WA
JAN29
Tue 6 PM PST858 guests
JAN30
San Diego, CA

 

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