Dinosaur costumes. Guitarists wrapped in Saran wrap. How about a mariachi band introduced for the grand finale just for kicks?
It was all in the “Truth” tour conclusion’s sold-out night of work Saturday at the Aztec Theatre as hometown grown Nothing More culminated a six-week run of fun in humorous fashion with grindcore act Of Mice & Men and young rockers Badflower and Palisades.
For a band that graduated from Sam’s Burger Joint and Sunken Garden Theater to touring Europe with Five Finger Death Punch and playing California festivals such as Aftershock and Knotfest (ATM coverage of the latter here and interview here), Nothing More demonstrated several facets to its always lively and entertaining show:
It hasn’t forgotten where it came from
While many artists ending a tour talk about how they can’t wait to get home to their families and into their beds for the first time in a long time, Nothing More played and spoke as if it didn’t want this tour to end
It has a sense of humor on stage to go with its deep lyrical content
It has no love lost for a certain local rock radio station
Nothing More also graduated to selling out the Aztec for the first time, a step up from its 2015 visit (coverage here) as vocalist Jonny Hawkins, guitarist Mark Vollelunga, bassist Daniel Oliver and Arizona native and drummer Ben Anderson dominated its set with songs from 2017 and latest effort The Stories We Tell Ourselves. With band members silhouetted behind a curtain underneath the word “truth” spelled upside down, the barefoot and shirtless Hawkins climbed the group’s 14-foot-tall scorpion tail contraption as the cloth fell to the floor and the audience roared.
New tracks including opener “Let ‘em Burn,” “Funny Little Creatures,” “Go to War” and “Do You Really Want It” (ATM Facebook Live footage here) meshed with previous album offerings “Mr. MTV” and “Christ Copyright.”
After members of Nothing More and Of Mice & Men pranked support acts Badflower and Palisades by tightening up guitarists in Saran wrap during the former’s final song “Animal” (ATM footage below) and the latter by laying on stage in baby pools, the more no-nonsense tone of Of Mice & Men took to the stage. All levels of the Aztec took the positive reaction up a notch as the heaviness intensified, as evidenced by ATM’s footage of “O.G. Loko” below.
But even Of Mice & Men was not immune to the pranking, as two guys in dinosaur outfits pranced around the stage (see 70-photo slideshow below) before their jurassic asses were shot down by water guns. The band’s guitarists even mimicked their dead bodies while shredding away.
Ironically, a more serious re-enactment of a shooting scenario dotted the theme of Nothing More’s “Truth” tour as depicted on an autographed poster at the merch booth (see slideshow). Amidst the fun and humor, Nothing More’s Hawkins spoke of two organizations with whom the band teamed in its constant lyrical call to attention to suicides, mass shootings, depression and mental health issues in general (watch ATM footage of “Jenny” and “Tunnels” below). Every ticket sold also contributed $1 to those causes.
Although Nothing More has done away with its swiveling “Bassanator,” the unique setup that was a staple of its early years and allowed Hawkins, Vollelunga and Oliver to tap on the instrument simultaneously, the group still featured those three pounding on various drums scattered on the stage. And yet that wasn’t even the best part of the show’s finale.
Prior to traditional closer “Salem,” Nothing More’s pranks came back to bite them when Palisades, Badflower and Of Mice & Men hilariously brought out a mariachi band, giving Nothing More an extra taste of being back home. Hawkins conceded that the gesture won the prank of the night before he launched into genuine appreciation for virtually everyone except local rock station 99.5-FM KISS, for which he saved some scathing commentary (ATM footage below).
From gimmicks to raising awareness of serious issues to straight ahead Rock N’ Roll to shunning a source a band thought it could count on for local support, Nothing More and its opening acts proved something else: that the ending of their “Truth” tour was a story they could tell not only themselves, but also their kids and friends, for years to come.