Hardworking and humble, this Grammy-nominated rock band has rejuvenated rock and roll.
Nothing More, having recently been nominated for three Grammy awards for Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance, performed in San Diego on March 2, at the House of Blues. And although, to my surprise, they did not bring home a Grammy, my anger at the academy-voting members was quelled with the excitement of seeing the band live.
I anxiously stood outside the venue, my holographic “Ultimate VIP” laminate around my neck, shivering in my distressed jeans and leather jacket, anticipating what I already knew would be an awesome meet-and-greet and show, having experienced the standard VIP package five months prior in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Hearts thumping, VIP holders were escorted into the venue. After initial introductions with the band: Jonny Hawkins (lead vocals), Mark Vollelunga (guitar), Daniel Oliver (bass), and Ben Anderson (drums), photos were taken, signed posters given, and the eight Ultimate VIP possessors were taken to the green room.
The experience was more than I expected. For about twenty minutes or more, we got to hang out with the band, and got to know each member beyond their persona. I lost track, dividing most of the time between Jonny and Mark. The atmosphere was casual, the guys fun to talk to, laid back, and relaxed. The band’s humble and appreciative demeanor was indicative of their perseverance, continued dedication, and challenging beginnings.
Having released four independent albums and struggling in the early 2000s to secure a core lineup, Nothing More toiled and toured to support themselves and attract the attention of a record label. In 2014, they signed a five-album deal with Eleven Seven Music, re-releasing Nothing More followed by The Stories We Tell Ourselves, which dropped in September 2017. The album debuted on Billboard’s 200 all-format album chart at number 15, and its single “Go to War” gave the band its first number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs’ chart.
Nothing More is a band more-than-worthy and deserving of its success. And I give extra respect to them for following their passion instead of catering to mainstream radio. Their live show was visually explosive, the band a personification of rhythm and passion.
Jonny Hawkins, hair in waves just above his shoulders and shirtless after the first few songs, was somewhat reminiscent of Jim Morrison minus the moody temperament and obscure, brooding lyrics. Hawkins’ charisma and energy, embodied the lyrics in a performance of fervor and emotion, intertwined in a sophisticated metal rhythm, heavy drums, and thoughtfully-written lyrics packed with emotion. No surprise, considering much of the band’s songs reap from personal connections.
The music was tight and polished, the members working together in a weave of voice and riffage, their melodious choreography literally coming together twice in an enthralling planned performance as Jonny, Mark, and Daniel simultaneously played an electric guitar and joined Ben to play a trio of drum sets.
Scorpion Tail, another fan favorite, was an outlet for front-man Jonny to showcase his talent and personality. The fourteen-foot mechanical appendage of scrap metal and car parts rose above the stage while Hawkins stood on its platform, DJ-like with the ability to manipulate vocals and his bandmates’ guitars with the push and pull of levers in an amazing cover of Skrillex’s “First of the Year (Equinox).”
The House of Blues pumped raw rock, the walls thumping with tangible energy as the band connected with their fans. Audience age varied, solidifying the fact that Nothing More has a dedicated and diverse fan base. Hawkins shared the mike with the audience during many of the band’s chart-topping songs, the play of colored stage lights turning the soulful, creole-art inspired venue into an intimate rock-and-roll bar.
The set ended without an encore, another example of the band’s no-nonsense and genuine attitude.
Nothing More’s music is on the forefront of a rock-and-roll renaissance. Though a band based on vocals, guitar, and drums, their music is fresh and riveting, giving the genre a well-needed boost.
The bar is set. I attended another show two days later―won’t make that mistake again. The band just couldn’t match the energy and talent Nothing More brought to San Diego.
Nothing More is nothing short of being amazing. After taking a quick break, their next tour kicks off on April 4th in Philadelphia with Papa Roach and Escape the Fate. I highly recommend checking out Nothing More’s music and going to one of their shows. Rediscover rock with this band. You will not be disappointed. http://nothingmore.net/tour/