On Saturday Night, Silverstein came home. The lights went down, the banners went up. And like the author they named themselves after, they told us their story. A story 15 years in the making.
From the distinctive opening of Smashed Into pieces, it’s urgent repetitive inner harmonies overshadowed by the desperate scream “Never Again” Shane Told weaves a narrative of the last fifteen years. Exhibiting the maturity of a seasoned performer yet maintaining the vitality of youth that has been Silverstein’s hallmark for over a decade. Transitioning seamlessly into Red Light Pledge, a plaintive confession of past mistakes.
As the last cries of “wait for you” faded out the audience and band took a collective breath. The first time I heard Giving Up was in 2007, and I remember the distinctively raw plaintive opening segueing directly into their viscerally direct chorus. Eleven years later hearing the same simple melody with Shane’s now much more refined voice sweetens the plaintive simplicity of the opening adding a mature gravitas giving and depth that was just beginning to show a decade ago. The band flowed seamlessly through one of their rawest works being fully supported by a most loyal hometown crowd who knew every-word. Buoyed by a sold out crowd Silverstein soared through the rest of their album blasting through the finale of When Broken Is Easily Fixed joined onstage by Anthony DeMario of Capstan.
“Rust or decay, the fire or the flame You and I will lead the path to change, pave the way”
The final lines repeated throughout the hall like a mantra through the crowd as the lights faded out and the band stepped off and so ended the anniversary show.
However! The show was far from over. As soon as the band had caught their breath they came back with one of their newest numbers The Afterglow. One of their popiest numbers off of the latest album Dead Reflection. From the opening line (which also happens to return in the chorus) The Afterglow is a delightfully fun and light departure from some of Silverstein’s weightier works and was the perfect choice to open their second act with. The audience responded with a fervour of joyous jumping to the mantra of “I can see the sunset just inside of your bedroom, I know it’s too soon to let it go, Everything you said echoing in my head, Into the afterglow”. Segueing smoothly into something while equally upbeat, had a very different attitude. Smile in Your Sleep’s continuously moving beat and wandering guitar line is an antithesis to the lyrical subject matter “you lie through your teeth, you smile in your sleep”. This dichotomy of style versus subject made the overall message delivered even more powerful, especially when the band moved into the breakdown, as if to have said the subject of the song finally crossed the line of emotional stability. This effect is increased tenfold during a live performance. Whipping right along into another prime example of Silverstein’s signature style of disguising heavy emotional content with what begins as a light hearted statement:
“Blame it on the weather but I’m a mess” a simple enough statement. However as the work progresses the listener begins to understand the emotional depth of the subject and right as the message really hits home in contrast to the previous number instead of pulling the audience all the way down into a heavy bass laden breakdown it’s an abrupt flip into a light straight forwards guitar solo, as is the bridge, simple broken chords underneath Told’s mesmerizing voice singing “I’ll move on”
Silverstein followed up Karma with a number off their 2013 album This is How the Wind Shifts called California. A curiously fitting transition, the opening bars are simple and straight forwards, Shane Told’s voice accompanied by simple acoustic (or non-distorted) guitar reminiscent of the previous work, however directly after the opening line the listener is thrown into a violent miasma of mixed emotions, a wall of sound and a soulful guide in the form of Told’s raw scream.
Sticking with the same album, the band pulled out one of their other hits Massachusetts, a direct and powerful narrative of conflict and troubled relationships, whos subject matter is brutal enough, combined with Silverstein’s unapologetic writing and presentation they present an enthralling and mesmerizing performance.
Continuing through a beautifully built set, Texas Mickey, Retrograde, Lost Positives, American Dream and finally Discovering the Waterfront each powerful statements in their own right, presented by a band that has seen so much in terms of personal tragedy as well as life Silverstein’s unique capacity for taking deeply personal moments of loss and experience and weaving powerful narratives has been one of their hallmarks but their ability to bring those narratives to life on stage in such an honest manner with just the right mix raw emotional fervour and seasoned professionalism is what really set them and this show apart.
At the end of the final set Shane Told returned to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar and lead the audience into an acoustic rendition of Aquamarine a heartbreaking ode to love and a violation of trust. After a brief pause, He lead the audience into perhaps one of their most powerful and best loved works My Heroine. As he began the opening verse: “The Drugs begin to peak” not a soul in that venue wasn’t joining him in song, by the third verse, the entire band had rejoined Told on stage and by the final verse, they’d discarded their instruments, leaving only themselves and the audience singing
“You taunt my heart, a sense I never knew I had, I can’t forget, The times when I was lost and depressed from the awful truth How do you do it? You’re my heroin! I will save myself!” Over and over, into the night.