By Gabby Redding | April 9, 2023
Nothing More’s musical style is characterized by their heavy use of rhythmic instrumentation, unconventional song structures, and lead singer Jonny Hawkins’ powerful vocals, which often incorporate spoken word and screams. Their catalog has been described as a blend of progressive metal, alternative rock, and post-hardcore, with guitarist Mark Vollelunga, bassist Daniel Oliver, and drummer Ben Anderson adding their talents.
Although they were formed in 2003, the band gained wider recognition with their self-titled album, Nothing More, in 2014, which featured hit singles such as “This Is the Time (Ballast)” and “Jenny.” The album was a critical and commercial success, earning them three Grammy nominations. Since then, Nothing More has released several more albums, including The Stories We Tell Ourselves in 2017, which debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band has also toured extensively, playing at major music festivals such as Rock on the Range, Warped Tour, and Aftershock. Their current tour ‘Spirits,’ is a celebration of the band’s newest album by the same name, which was released in 2022 after nearly three years of recording and editing.
In addition to their music, Nothing More is known for their socially conscious lyrics and activism. The band has been involved in various causes, including mental health awareness, domestic violence prevention, and environmental conservation. Organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms and Headcount are often present at their live performances. Frontman Jonny Hawkins has also been known to use his body as a canvas for political statements, often painting messages on his bare chest during live performances. The band’s music videos also frequently incorporate political themes, such as their video for “Let ‘Em Burn,” which addresses police brutality.
We attended Nothing More’s April 9th show at Irving Plaza, where Hawkins and his band opened the show with ‘Mister Sandman,’ until the vocals began to warp, the lights went down, and everything on the stage cut to black. As their song “Spirits” began to play, Nothing More rushed the front of Irving Plaza, illuminated by red lighting.
The crowd’s energy was unrelenting, as constant crowd surfers and mosh pits highlighted the band’s vibrant and animated stage presence. Hawkins’ soaring vocals effortlessly transitioned into screams, with a few rare breaks for some of their more intimate songs.
A stand out of the show was the clear fan-favorite, “Jenny,” which Hawkins dedicated to “anyone with a Jenny in their lives.” The song was written about his aunt and sister who both struggle with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The emotional lyrics were a pause in an otherwise chaotic set, as Irving Plaza sang along,
“I can’t stand to see you down
Strung out, off the wagon, and unwound
But steady, steady, oh God, Jenny, Jenny
I can’t bear to hear the sound of your body, body
Hitting the ground”
They launched into “Let ‘em Burn” after, and the crowd quickly caught up to the resumed high energy performance. Since 2015, A staple of a Nothing More show is the “Scorpion Tail” where Hawkins, formerly the band’s drummer, climbs a 14 foot tall, 400 pound metal structure adorned with elements of a drum set, along with motorcycle parts and scrap metal. The instrument allows Hawkins to effectively DJ the rest of the band.
They ended the show by performing ‘This is the Time’ and then jamming out together, as all four band members assumed some form of drumming. Fans took this last chance to leave all their energy at the venue, moshing and crowd surfing towards the front, until Hawkins eventually stood above the crowd, holding their hands, and ended the show.
📸: shot by Jill Boyastis