Nothing More’s merch dude JC climbs onstage with a guitar. The Unwritten Law cover he’s about to perform, he says, is dedicated to his girlfriend, whom he calls up onstage. Afterwards, obviously, he unpockets a ring box and asks the question, leaving Nothing More to follow a Hollywood-style wedding proposal. It’s an appropriate beginning for a show that will include stand-up comedy, performance-art percussion, and bassist Daniel Oliver crowd-surfing to celebrate his 25th birthday — and wind up feeling more like an event than a concert.
Oliver, the birthday boy, enters clenching a Hugh Hefner pipe in his teeth, puffing while he plays. Opener “60secondaffair,” an older song with a nü-metal shimmer, leads into “Salem,” a standout track from The Few Not Fleeting, Nothing More’s latest release, going on sale tonight. “Burn the witch,” screams lead vocalist Jonny Hawkins, disregarding, like most musicians who’ve previously covered the subject, that the accused in Salem were actually hanged. Hawkins might need to reread The Crucible, but his athletic delivery (he thumbs his vocal chords to force the right notes and guzzles from a gallon jug of what appears to be water throughout the show) insists on his lyrics’ significance. Guitarist Mark Vollelunga, meanwhile, shaking the 2-foot dreadlocks dangling from his head, gets an intense upper-body workout on the guitar strings, more than making up for the lack of studio-gimmickry in the live version.
Oliver carries his bass to center stage, placing it in a homemade sling constructed from wood and PVC pipe. Drummer Devin Travieso keeps time and, while Oliver and Vollelunga pluck at the bass, Hawkins plays the strings with drumsticks. The effect is an interesting melodic thumping, but the sound is less exciting than the energy put into the performance. Vollelunga forms chords with one hand and fist-pumps with the other.
More impressively elaborate is the extended multi-instrumentalist drum solo following pop-punk breakup bitchfest “Love?” Travieso and Hawkins play dueling, choreographed drum-line parts on the same kit while Oliver and Vollelunga scramble to rearrange equipment, holding up drums to be beaten, and eventually strapping on helmets with cymbals attached for a bit that’s only saved from pure prop comedy by Hawkins and Travieso’s considerable chops.