Why do Egyptian Plover birds perch on the bodies of crocodiles? More intriguing is the question of why the crocodiles endure the birds’ presence. The answer is a matter of symbiosis – the croc relies on the plover to get rid of harmful parasites, and the bird depends on the crocodile for food. Similarly, musicians and fans share a kind of symbiotic relationship: the fans look to musicians for entertainment and/or expression of feeling, and musicians need fans to purchase EP’s and CD’s to support their efforts. The Never Shave Again Tour, which hit the 9:30 Club on Nov. 18, was both a demonstration of bands and fans in opposition, and of symbiotic harmony between the audience and the musician.
It may have been the early 4 p.m. start time that prevented the crowd from getting into the music. That was certainly the attitude of Aiden, a five-man band from Seattle melding post-hardcore and goth rock with emo lyrics. Opening their set with a song titled “The Suffering,” lead singer wIL Francis (and yes, that is his preferred syntax) punctuated the opening line “Burn your friends!” with a fist pump on each syllable and encouraged fans to do the same. Disappointed with the crowd’s lackluster response, he said dryly, “It’s not time to go to sleep yet.” Francis made numerous attempts to energize the crowd, encouraging kids to “make the biggest fucking circle pit of the night,” and “to tear [the] room apart.” With his encouragement, the crowd would spark to life and fade almost as quickly.
“The last time we were in D.C., we were touring with Hawthorne Heights, and there was more moshing at a fucking Hawthorne Heights concert,” Francis said later. In a last ditch attempt to invigorate the audience, he split the crowd on the ground floor in half so that people in either half were against the wall and 20 feet of open space lay between them. At Francis’s cue, the two charged one another, and fans ricocheted off one another while the band hammered at the opening power chords of the next song.
As a result of the crowd’s lukewarm reception to the music, Aiden steadily lost its on-stage energy high throughout the set. Francis came to the stage in theatrical makeup complete with “blood” dripping out of his mouth and down his chin. When he was not singing or talking, he danced around the stage and whipped the microphone in circles. In the beginning, drummer Jake Davison’s intense energy was topped only by the antics of Nick Wiggins, the bass player, who constantly shifted from standing on stage to on the monitor to on the speakers during the set. By the end of the set, the members of the band stopped jumping around and switching places, and Francis paced the stage as he sang.
While Aiden’s performance thrived on glamour and bright lights, Silverstein’s show was more subdued. Even so, the audience did a 180; the dancing, moshing and singing along that some of the previous bands hoped for was realized during the Silverstein set. After the show, drum player Paul Koehler said that the 9:30 Club was “one of the most memorable shows. The crowd was incredible and it was one of our biggest shows to date.” He added that the Never Shave Again Tour was Silverstein’s first major headlining tour and things were going “exceptionally well.”
Live, Silverstein showed a high level of energy without an abundance of crazy antics. Shane Told, the group’s vocalist, spoke to and encouraged the audience without being over the top or downright demanding. “Smile in Your Sleep,” the group’s first single from 2005’s “Discovering the Waterfront,” empowered the crowd more than any other song performed that night. The song, which is also the band’s biggest hit, takes inspiration from “life as a whole. We dissect it and try to capture what we take from it all,” Koehler said. He added that the strong scenes of the U.S. and Silverstein’s native country, Canada, have been really supportive of the bands’ creative efforts.
Silverstein heads to the recording studio in March and hopes to release a third album next summer. Though no plans to play at the Warped Tour have been made, Koehler is content to sit back and take things as they come. “We’ve been touring for two and a half years now,” he said. “We’re happy with the direction of the band.”