Nothing More, underdog alternative rock band from San Antonio, brought a huge crowd and an energetic performance to The Sylvee Sunday night.
The band got their start in 2004, when lead singer Jonny Hawkins, bassist Daniel Oliver and guitarist Mark Vollelunga were in high school together.
“We’re trying harder and harder every time we write to go both heavier, go into a darker underworld, but also be more ambient than previously,” Oliver said of the band’s current sound. “We were listening to some real old stuff just last night and it’s not terrible, it’s just funny.”
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The show opened with three bands, Burden of the Sky, Greyhaven and Palisades, who epitomized the heavy music that Oliver and the band enjoy. Throughout the opening sets, the crowd started to fill in, until the entire floor was full of screaming, fist-pumping Nothing More fans.
Since their beginning, Nothing More has generated a devoted and tight-knit fan base. After the first few songs, Hawkins yelled to the audience, asking who had been to one of their shows before. About half of the crowd raised their hands.
Hawkins then went on to ask, “Any first-timers?” The other half cheered. “Welcome to the family!” Hawkins replied with genuine hospitality.
The band is entirely self-produced and tours almost non-stop in order to maintain their fan-base. After more than 10 years of playing together, they received their first Grammy nominations this year.
“It just kind of blew our minds,” Oliver said. “I think we all cried a little bit that day. It meant a lot to us as a band, but I think what means even more is that it meant a lot to our families and friends — people whose couches we’ve slept on and people who’ve let us live in their house for very cheap rent while we plunk away at the music thing. And our parents, they’re the ones we have to thank most of all.”
Not only did these nominations spark a change in the legitimacy and popularity of the band, but Oliver believes that they show a much-needed transformation in the Grammy Awards as well.
“I think it shows a change in the Grammys, too,” Oliver said. “There was a lot of hate online, actually, about us getting the nominations just because there are much larger bands, but I think that’s what the Grammys are about. They’re not about who is most popular, it’s about who at that time is releasing the best art. And it’s cool that they recognize smaller groups.”
Most of Nothing More’s set consisted of their more lively songs, but towards the middle of the show, Hawkins and Vollelunga went into the acoustic version of “Just Say When” off of The Stories We Tell Ourselves. Though this tour cycle is focused around The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Nothing More spent the majority of the show on their self-titled album.
Oliver revealed that the band has not yet started writing music for their next album, but he has started to design their next giant stage prop. Currently, the band uses a bass guitar stand created by Oliver.
Sunday, Nothing More used the bass guitar stand to perform one of their famous three-man bass solos. While Oliver and Vollelunga used their hands to pluck away at the strings, Hawkins played the guitar with a pair of drumsticks.
The set closed with Hawkins riding the “Scorpion Tail,” a device that allows him to, “DJ a live band,” as Oliver puts it. The actual musical device was originally a small, handheld control, but Oliver created a metal contraption around it.
“[It’s meant to] feel like a car crash on stage, just violent and huge,” Oliver said.
This concert marks one of the final shows in this tour cycle for Nothing More. The band is going to take about six weeks off from touring, which Oliver explained will be spent, “relaxing and rehearsing.”
Their next tour cycle will start in February, titled the “Truth Tour.” Nothing More will once again be joined by Palisades, along with Of Mice and Men and Badflower.
Nothing More will not be back in Madison for the “Truth Tour,” but you will be able to catch a show in either Minneapolis or Chicago. If you are looking for a memorable and a relatively heavy concert experience, make the trip.