This past month, The Noise has teamed up with Nothing More for their largest headlining run yet – ‘The Truth Tour’. Stacked with budding hard rock superstars, the tour also features Of Mice & Men, Badflower and Palisades as supporting acts. Needless to say, the tour has been selling out multiple dates across the country and Tampa, FL was no exception when they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a massive sold show at The Ritz Ybor last Sunday.
The first band on the bill for the evening was Palisades, and they hit what was clearly a packed stage with gear ready to go for all the bands playing. The drum kit was mere inches from the edge of the stage and it looked like there was hardly enough space for the New Jersey rockers to unleash all their energy. Nonetheless, they kicked off their set with the heavy hitting lead single “War,” off their latest album ‘Erase The Pain.’ The album was released in late December, 2018, and Palisades are on tour in support of the drop. Needless to say, the majority of their set was a taste of the new material.
Vocalist Lou Miceli took to the mic early to start getting the crowd riled up, “I wanna see you all lose your minds for this song!” Immediately, heads began banging in synch to another new song, “Vendetta.” Lou returned to the mic to introduce an older one, “This next song you may have heard from Octane.” The crowd was obviously familiar as cheers ripped through the room at the opening electronic beats of “Let Down.” The song was the second single off Palisades’ 2017 self titled album and seemed to be one of the most well received of their set, with the audience clapping along during the chorus.
The band took time to thank the crowd for coming out to the show early enough to catch Palisades’ set and before departing, Lou said, “I dunno about you, but when I listen to music, I listen to something that makes me feel something.” On that note, the band closed out their 8 song set with “Erase The Pain,” the first single and title track from the new record.
During a short set change, a few hosts from Tampa Bay’s 98Rock Radio Station came out to officially introduce the show and further amp up the crowd. A few lucky showgoers were thrown t-shirts before it was time for Badflower to hit the stage.
Badflower also just dropped a new record – their debut studio album – ‘OK, I’M SICK’ less than a month ago on February 22nd. They wasted no time diving into the new material, opening with the album’s second single “x ANA x.” The Los Angeles native band is the youngest on this tour’s bill, but with an alternative ’90’s vibe and plenty of catchy hooks, it’s no wonder they’re gaining traction and radio play. High energy and plenty of hair for guitarist Danny Hechter (currently filling in for Joey Morrow) and bassist Alex Espiritu to headbang makes Badflower especially fun to watch.
Just before the band was about to play “Heroin,” someone in the crowd yelled out, “I LOVE YOU!” Vocalist Josh Katz gave a charmingly charismatic response, “Oh, we love you too, that’s so nice to say!” He later returned to the mic to say, “As you know, this isn’t our show tonight. This is Nothing More’s show!” He deliberately paused to allow the crowd an opportunity to cheer before continuing with, “So, we can’t play too many songs tonight. But, how many of you will come back and see us headline?” An even louder cheer erupted through the venue.
The highlight of Badflower’s set was easily their passionate and powerful performance of the new album’s lead single, “Ghost.” The lyrics are raw and emotionally charged, even moving some to the point of tears. The entire audience gave the equivalent of a standing ovation (since they were already standing…) and Katz was visibly blown away as he placed his hand on his chest and expressed a heartfelt thanks. Badflower closed their set out with “Animal,” a song from their 2016 EP ‘Temper’ that garnered attention from Apple Music, who named the band Artist of the Week when the EP was released.
Next up was metalcore band Of Mice & Men, who has been direct support to Nothing More on The Truth Tour and are easily the heaviest band on the lineup. Following founding vocalist Austin Carlile’s departure in 2016, there was some speculation about how Of Mice & Men would continue, but all doubts were erased when they released the first single that featured bassist Aaron Pauley on lead vocals.
Of Mice & Men kicked their set off with the heavy hitting track “Warzone” and followed it up with the title track of their 2018 album release, “Defy.” Making sure to appeal to their long term fanbase, Of Mice & Men threw it back a few albums, playing “Would You Still Be There.” Aaron’s vocals carried over well and he is able to single handedly (single vocally?) cover both the harsh and clean techniques. The band released a brand new song “How to Survive” on February 14th, which seems to have turned to a much heavier style than any tracks on ‘Defy.’ This tour saw the live debut of the song, and it was next up on the setlist.
The only audible hiccup of the night occurred a little over halfway through Of Mice & Men’s set. Aaron was speaking to the crowd saying, “By a show of hands, does anyone have our most recent album ‘Defy’? We’re gonna play –” He was cut short as the mic abruptly went out, but he appeared to still be talking and the band even started playing before realizing something was off. Aaron was laughing when he returned to the (now functional) mic to explain, “The PA cut out but we didn’t realize it because we play with in ears in!” Still smiling, he asked, “You guys wanna hear “Unbreakable”? This time we’re gonna play for you guys, not just for us.”
Nearing the end of the set, Aaron asked the crowd to put their hands in the air while they got another older track, “Instincts” going. The heavy song inspired mosh pits to break out and the band was obviously feeding off the energy. At the end of the song, Aaron asked, “Tampa do you want some more?!” The crowd cheered, but Aaron seemed to be expecting more. “I said do you want some more Of Mice and Fucking Men?!” The eruption of cheers was clearly more respectable this time and Aaron commanded, “Take your fists and put ’em in the air.” The crowd obliged, pounding to the beat of set closer, “You Make Me Sick.”
After Of Mice & Men thanked the crowd and said goodnight, a white curtain was draped over stage to conceal the final set change. The Ritz had a playlist of songs running that included Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” and Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” which everyone was headbanging and singing to as if a band was actually playing. Once the playlist ended though, the room got quiet and expectant fans began chanting, “No-thing More! No-thing More!”
Soon enough, the room went dark and the tour’s stylized “ɥʇnɹʇ” logo was projected on the curtain. Vocalist Jonny Hawkin’s silhouette could be seen as he climbed up a ladder and cranked a machine that made a sound similar to a siren’s wail. While drummer Ben Anderson laid the beat, Mark Vollelunga (guitars) and Dan Oliver (bass) began pumping their fists in the air, which the crowd followed along with. Jonny sang, “Everybody, everybody, yeah,” and the curtain dropped when the full band kicked in for the rest of “Let ’em Burn.”
Jonny started out as the band’s drummer back when they founded in 2003 and still incorporates those skills into their set. He pounded away the intro to “Christ Copyright” on a separate, industrial steampunk style drum set (also known as the “Drumtron”), engineered by the band’s bassist. Nothing More came out full of energy from the start, and they certainly had no trouble keeping their audience captive.
The lights dimmed briefly after “Funny Little Creatures” and when they came back on, Jonny was standing on a platform behind the drum kit with his arms spread as he sang the opening lyrics of “Go To War.” The song was the first single off the band’s latest album ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’ and is easily Nothing More’s most commercially and critically well acclaimed song, receiving nominations for both “Best Rock Song” and “Best Rock Performance” in the 2018 Grammys. At the end of the song, Jonny knelt down on a riser and whispered, “Shhhh,” in an attempt to hush a cheering crowd. The quietness in the room made for high contrast when cryo jets fired off and Jonny yelled “Do You Really Want It?!”
Nothing More is has become known for creating thought provoking albums with lyrics that address the truth about politics, religion, spirituality and mental health. The band also includes voice-over snippets from philosopher Alan Watts on their albums, and familiar recordings filled the room during the interlude before “The Great Divorce.” Following “Still In Love” and “Mr. MTV,” Nothing More performed a fan favorite song “Jenny,” which discusses struggles with mental illness. After the track’s release in 2014, the band partnered with numerous mental health awareness programs, including To Write Love on Her Arms. The non-profit movement is dedicated to presenting hope and options for people struggling with depression and addiction, and $1 from every ticket purchased on ‘The Truth Tour’ is being donated to the organization.
The set continued down a mellow and intimate path after “Jenny.” During the last verse of “Tunnels,” Jonny knelt at the front of the stage and sang to the front row while reaching out and shaking fan’s hands. Noticing one particular person recording the song, Jonny reached out and grabbed their phone. He held it out to capture the audience singing the end of the song, which morphed into a single chorus of “Here’s to the Heartache.” After returning the fan’s phone, Jonny introduced the next song. “This one goes out to any parents in the house, or anyone who has lost a parent.” His vocals took the spotlight for a heartfelt performance of “Fade In/Fade Out.”
The band’s second highest charting song to date “This Is The Time” kicked things back into a higher gear. At the end of the song, Dan and Mark climbed up on the platform behind Ben’s drums and Jonny jumped on a one-of-a-kind contraption referred to as The Scorpion Tail, which hydro-launched him a few feet into the air. The Scorpion Tail is equipped with a voice/synth plate, pulls that act as whammy bars and various other electronic effects that allow them to perform an intense cover of Skrillex’s “First of the Year (Equinox).” New to this tour was an unexpected interjection of the first verse and chorus of “We Will Rock You,” with Jonny jumping and stomping to the beat.
After Jonny explained, “We don’t believe in encores. They’re all fake anyway,” the band rounded out their 17 song set “Salem (Burn the Witch).” During the song, Dan and Mark abandoned their strings to grab a drum and drumstick to accompany Jonny and Ben. The full band drum solo is just one more signature move that makes a Nothing More show stand out above the rest.
Nothing More has been spreading ‘The Truth’ all across North America for the past month and will conclude on Saturday in their hometown of San Antonio, TX. They will be making their way over to Europe as direct support for Papa Roach through May and have hinted about getting back in the studio to start writing the next record after that!