Eleven years ago this March, a little band called Silverstein played their first show together. As five friends from Burlington, the screamo/alternative punk band began as a fun joke, nothing serious. Nonetheless, eleven years, over one thousand shows played, and many memories later, Silverstein has become a fully-fledged power house of a band.
In March of 2010, the band did a special 10th-year anniversary weekend, where they played one album each night, from front to back, over four nights. I was lucky enough to attend two of these shows, and this week I was even luckier to get a small interview with Shane Told, the lead singer, via e-mail.
Billy Hamilton (Bass)
As each and every one of Silverstein’s shows entail, Told reiterated the fact that the fans come out and support them each night and are just as crazy in their native land as they are anywhere else in the world. The March 18th – 21st shows, entitled “Decade,” were all sold out, and for good reason. They brought kids from as far as Germany and the U.K. just to see the band play all four albums in their entirety. The atmosphere inside the tiny bar, the El Mocambo of Toronto, of that final night was electric and pulsed through each person’s heart. The crowd was giddy while the first two acts performed, and when Silverstein's techs came out to tune the guitars and check the microphones, the crowd grew restless.The lights went down and the eruption from the crowd was ear-splitting, as the silhouettes of the five guys we had been waiting for could be seen taking their positions behind their respected instruments.
Paul Koehler (Drums)
“Hello Toronto!” Shane greeted us from his mic. The room burst with light as the first few bars pounded through the speakers, and the place blew up. That’s when the bodies started to fly. The venue was so small that there was no barrier (a metal barrier dividing the crowd from the stage) and, being front-row center, I was the one being kicked in the head, squished and stepped on as kids got up on stage to "stage dive." I asked Shane in the interview what he thought about stage divers, to which he replied, “I don’t mind stage divers, but when the same person is up there ten or fifteen times he is just annoying everyone.”
The raw intensity shared and brought to the stage by these five individuals is mind blowing, and that night was no exception. Silverstein opened up the set with one of their heaviest songs and these kids were jumping from left, right and center, getting all their angst out; the kind of angst that builds up in your chest and burns in your throat, and can only be solved by screaming back the lyrics to your favourite songs.
Josh Bradford (Guitar), Billy Hamilton (Bass)
In between the songs Shane likes to talk to the crowd to keep things light for the band, and to keep the crowd engaged. As the rest of the band tuned their guitars, Shane asked us questions and someone shouted out, “Robot Unicorn Attack!” which was follwed by a giggle from the lead singer. Robot Unicorn Attack is a game Shane found on the internet while on tour and fell in love with, so he laughed and told us his high score before getting ready for the next song. With the atmosphere light and fun, the band announced, “I Am The Arsonist” as their next song. The light and fun mood was completely shot with that introduction. Heads were banging, bodies were bouncing, guitars were shredding, drums were slamming, and the breakdowns were as heavy as ever. Told got us further involved by shoving the mic into the crowd, allowing random people to sing parts of his songs.
We reached the last song off the record and things slowed down a bit because the first half is played acoustically. We got a treat as a guest vocalist came on to help Shane sing his part, and eventually the rest of the band joined in with their instruments to finish the song.
Neil Boshart (Lead guitar)
“Who wants us to play a few more? Any requests?” Shane asked. The place lost it and every person began shouting their favourite song that hadn’t been played yet. The set grew longer, but the crowd did not grow weary. After a few fun cover songs, the band got back into the fan favourites, which sent the place into a flurry of pandemonium. We all thought the show was over when the band finished with “Bleeds No More,” their usual choice to close the set, however, when each member left the stage, Shane stayed put. He looked awkward until a techie brought out his Gibson Deluxe Song Writer guitar. Again, the place roared as he took a seat on the stool brought out for him and began to tune his guitar. We all fell silent as he strummed the first few chords of “My Heroine”, but didn’t hold back helping Shane sing when the lyrics kicked in.
Shane Told (Vocals)
Just before the final chorus was sung the drummer, Paul, guitarists’ Neil and Josh, and bassist, Billy, all re-joined the stage to hear just the crowd sing the last chorus before chiming in with us to finish the song non-acoustically. Each member did an incredible job to engage the crowd and keep the energy pumping, and at the end of the song, Told thanked us fans and Paul threw a bunch of drum sticks into the crowd, as the three guitarists threw their picks.
I have seen this band live five times now, and that was by far the best show, as it had everything a fan could want: An entire fourteen song album played from front to back, acoustic songs, cover songs, crowd requests, and it was all filmed for a special DVD. The guys even stuck around afterwards to talk to everyone and sign a few autographs. Pictures, signed posters, merchandise and guitar picks litter my room from that unforgettable night.