LIVE REVIEW: Issues/Silverstein/Tonight Alive/State Champs/RARITY – Grand Rapids, MI – 5/16/15

Issues by Kelly Hamilton

How do you make a good thing even better?

This question undoubtedly went through the minds of Canadian post-hardcore quintet Silverstein when prepping for their upcoming record-release tour, supporting their stellar new album I Am Alive In Everything I Touch. With their tour dates set in stone for a week-long excursion into smaller-capacity rooms in B-markets, the 15-year-old band were ready to add another tour to their belt.

Or were they? Roughly three weeks before the band’s May 16 date at the Stache in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rise Records labelmates Issues approached the band about combining their show with an off-date for the supporting bands on All Time Low’s Future Hearts tour. Naturally, the band accepted the offer and the show was promptly moved from the 200-cap Stache into the 1,500-cap Intersection.

Issues. Silverstein. Tonight Alive. State Champs. Rarity. Anchors Calling. Last Night Saved My Life. Seven bands, two tours, one evening. And I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

The venue’s doors opened at 5:00 p.m. that evening, with Grand Rapids locals Last Night Saved My Life and Anchors Calling playing at 5:30 and 6:15, respectively. Though sadly, I missed these two sets due to the hectic southbound traffic coming to the show, I can say from personal experience seeing both bands multiple times on separate occasions that I’m sure they were excellent. Check out Last Night Saved My Life’s EP Solid Ground and Anchors Calling’s latest single “Lifeloss,” both available on their respective Facebooks.

After both locals’ sets ended, the first touring band of the evening took the stage: Rarity. The band are currently direct support for Silverstein on their record-release tour, as both labelmates under Rise Records and fellow residents of Canada. Though a relatively newer band to the touring racket (the band mentioned their semi-recent name change from Face Value), the band held a cool composure on stage, playing to what they mentioned was their largest show to date. The band visciously ripped through a mix of both newer and older material, the former they’ll be recording in Chicago this summer for their debut LP on Rise. The highlight of the set was definitely getting to hear single “Anne Hathaway” performed in a live setting—a track I’ve spent jamming many times since discovering the band. Though the future is unclear for all of us, if the band’s performance from last Saturday is any indication of what’s to come, Rarity should have no problem reeling in a larger fanbase.

Albany, New York, pop-punk quintet State Champs were up next, and were far and away my most anticipated band of the evening. Though I’ve gotten the chance to see the band on three other occasions (Bled Fest 2013, opening for We Are The In Crowd and on Warped Tour last summer), there’s just something about the band’s spirited live performance and light, yet accessible music that has kept me coming back over the last couple of years. Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt that they released The Finer Things, otherwise known as one of the strongest debut efforts found in the latest crop of the pop-punk wave. Thankfully, their setlist was entirely composed of songs from the record that evening. Tracks like the hard-hitting “Prepare To Be Noticed,” blissfully jaunty “Hard To Please” and excellent closer “Elevated” made for a memorable set of all highs and no lows. Though the band’s tour supporting All Time Low will be wrapping up shortly over the next week or so, fear not! The band just announced a short headlining tour through the East Coast and Midwest from July-August with Hit the Lights, Tiny Moving Parts, Let It Happen and Northbound—and you can bet I’ll try my hardest to make the trek to Toledo for what will assuredly be another killer set.

Soon after State Champs left the stage, Australian pop-rock quintet Tonight Alive took the stage. Believe it or not, this was my first time ever getting the opportunity to see the band—though I’d always wanted to get the chance to the check out their live show, one thing always led to another that prevented me from checking their set out. However, one 45-minute set later and I couldn’t believe it had taken me that long to do so. Ripping through a set primarily comprised of tracks from their latest album (though nearing the end of its cycle) The Other Side, the band’s direct support set lit up the Intersection that evening. Much of the energy was brought by vocalist Jenna McDougall, whose infectious stage persona brought new life into the band’s set, where a crowd doesn’t just watch a set but becomes truly invested in it.

Finally, Silverstein and Issues hit the stage at 9:00 and 10:00, respectively. Silverstein, whose set was originally supposed to close, was first. Though I’d only seen Silverstein once before at Warped Tour, they’ve been a band I’ve followed since my middle school days. However, unlike many of the bands I found myself a fan of in the heavy-music scene, Silverstein was always one of the bands whose music I came coming back to. The music that came out over the years changed for the better, but not in a trendy, money-hungry way—it progressed with sincerity and maturity. Now the band are fresh off the heels of what may just be their best record to date (I Am Alive In Everything I Touch), it was incredible to see their career defined in a headlining set that evening. The band spanned their discography, playing older favorites like “Smile In Your Sleep” and “Your Sword Vs. My Dagger,” while still digging into material from their newer releases, such as the excellent “A Midwestern State Of Emergency.” Not only this, but the band was a force to be reckoned with in a live setting, keeping their energy up from start to finish without missing a beat.

Before going to this show, I went in with the attention that if I saw Silverstein on a headliner, I could skip them at Warped Tour to make room for another band. Oh, how wrong I was—Silverstein are a band I want to see more and more, at every given opportunity.

The same could be said for Issues, who closed the evening in tremendous fashion. Coming out onstage to the Pokemon theme song, as they have been all spring on their stint opening for All Time Low, the band went into full force, playing a setlist that primarily consisted of songs from their 2014 self-titled effort. Ever since I first saw the band at last summer’s Warped Tour, I knew I had to check out what the band could bring to a headlining set. And, let me tell you, all of my expectations were met. Vocalists Michael Boen and Tyler Carter’s dual vocal approach make for a dynamic live performance, helping to keep each other’s energies in check. Though the band have no immediate touring plans for the future, I already know last week’s performance wouldn’t be my last.