BERKELEY — Silverstein brought its When Broken is Easily Fixed 15-year anniversary tour to a sold-out Cornerstone Tuesday, performing a set full of emotion and teenage nostalgia.
The Canadian rock band dove straight into that record for the first half of its set. While Silverstein had reinvented its sound over time, the group’s energy has clearly remained the same. Lead vocalist Shane Told performed these classic cuts with the same emotional intensity as if he did when he was 22. First cut “Smashed into Pieces” served up clear-cut angst through Told’s screams and the sharp guitars of Paul Marc Rousseau and Josh Bradford. The group then followed with the calmer “Red Light Pledge” and “Giving Up.”
The set continued with “November” and “Last Days of Summer,” tracks where the deepness of Billy Hamilton’s bass lines and Paul Koehler’s drumming criss-crossed into increasingly fast rhythms. It was the perfect transition into one of Silverstein’s most heartbreaking songs, “Bleeds No More.”
“My heart bleeds no more!/ Now it’s been turned to stone,” Told screamed on the first lines of the song, his emotion loud and clear throughout Cornerstone.
The first half of the show ended with “Hear Me Out,” “The Weak and the Wounded,” “Wish I Could Forget You” and the album’s title track. Each song revisited the classic formula for this genre: a mix of post-hardcore, emo and alternative rock, with slow parts progressing into heavier choruses and the vocals switching between clean and scream-singing.
The second half of Silverstein’s set traversed the band’s catalog. There was a noticeable change in sound, starting with the melodic hardcore rhythm of “The Afterglow,” off 2017’s Dead Reflection. The teen angst returned for “Smile In Your Sleep” and “Call It Karma,” off 2005’s Discovering the Waterfront, before returning to more melodic material, such as “California” and “Massachusetts,” from 2013 album This is How the Wind Shifts. The second half also included “Texas Mickey,” “Retrograde,” “Lost Positives” and “Discovering the Waterfront.”
For the encore, Silverstein started with an acoustic version of “Aquamarine.” The band ultimately closed with the heavy-hearted “My Heroine,” interpreted beautifully live through Told’s emotional sining and the epic sonic crescendo as the full band brought the song home.
Hawthorne Heights preceded Silverstein. The Dayton, Ohio band’s first California show ever was with Silverstein, so this bill felt especially fitting for “20ninescene.” The group opened with “This Is Who We Are,” off 2006’s If Only You Were Lonely, and “Bad Frequencies,” from the 2018 album of the same name. The quartet then threw things back to “Niki FM” from its debut album, 2004’s The Silence in Black and White.
Hawthorne Heights’ performance made it clear that the band’s sound had evolved from an angsty emo mix of screaming and clean vocals to a more traditional alt-rock style. The newer “Crimson Sand” was very different from 2006’s “Pens and Needles,” while “Bring You Back,” off 2010’s Skeletons, landed somewhere between both sounds.
The band finished with “Saying Sorry,” “Just Another Ghost” and its most popular cut, “Ohio is for Lovers.”
“So cut my wrist and black my eyes,” JT Woodruff sang during the latter track, his voice bursting with intense angst.
Louisiana post-hardcore band As Cities Burn, which recently returned following a decade-long hiatus, played an atmospheric set. At some parts, the group laid out heavy guitar riffs that accelerated into hyper-speed. The performance included a mix of old and new cuts, such as “’84 Sheepdog,” off 2009’s Hell or High Water; “Bloodsucker Pt. II,” from 2005’s Son, I Loved your Darkest; “This is It, This is It,” from 2007’s Come Now Sleep; and 2018 single “2020 AD.”
Capstan, from Florida, opened with a mix of modern alternative rock and 2010-era post-hardcore. The group blended sharp guitar riffs with heavy rhythmic guitars and let then simmer into atmospheric sounds with clean vocals. The set included 2018 single “Stars Before the Sun,” followed by “The Wreath and the Follower“ and “Elysian Fields.” Capstan ended with “Wax Poetic,” from 2015’s Cultural Divide.
Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at Instagram.com/joaquinxcabello.