This show was one that I went into almost completely blind. I hadn’t heard of a couple of the bands, I hadn’t listened to Of Mice & Men since middle school, and I had only heard a few Nothing More songs, so I really had no idea what to expect. I typically don’t even listen to bands that play on 97.1 anymore, so the fact that The Eagle was putting on this tour, had me a little nervous. As I walked up to the South Side Ballroom, everyone I passed was dressed in their Friday Night’s best, covered head to toe in black clothing. I walked into the pit of about seven other photographers and thus was the beginning of a pretty awesome night.
I arrived to the venue around 7pm, just missing the opening band Palisades, but I got there right in time for Badflower’s set. Having never of heard of this band before, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I have to say that this Californian rock band blew my expectations out of the water. Their set was filled with so much energy and passion; frontman Josh Katz seemed to transform on stage and become animated with intensity as they rocked through their set.
Next to the stage was a band that I have neglected for nearly seven years. I had no clue Of Mice & Men were still making music after the departure of former frontman Austin Carlile. Again for this band, I didn’t really know what to expect out of them now that bassist Aaron Pauley has taken over the position of lead vocalist. Sticking true to their metalcore nature, the guys from Of Mice & Men melted faces off and ripped through their set, feeding off of the amped up energy from the crowd. They played through a new song, “How to Survive,” that was just released last month. With fists held high, they brought the house down with an older hit, “You Make Me Sick.”
With the crowd still buzzing from the last set, the lights went down and a sheet was dropped between the stage and crowd. As the anticipation filled the air, the mystery was building as to what was going on behind the sheet blocking the view of the stage. Suddenly spotlights appeared, sirens filled the air and the beginning notes to “Let Em Burn” rang out. Frontman Jonny Hawkins displayed his theatrics early, as he climbed a tower and yelled the opening lyrics. Soon the sheet dropped and the crowd erupted in cheer. This band is definitely one of the most energetic bands I have seen. They blazed through songs new and old alike, seeming to gain energy as they moved through them. Hawkins showed no signs of slowing down as he was jumping around and climbing everything possible on stage. Fans from all walks of life were having an awesome night, even the youngest fans who were riding on their parents shoulders. Hawkins appreciated this tiny fan and called them to the front of the crowd. Between the rocking out, Hawkins took a moment to tell the crowd about the charity that every dollar of ticket sales goes to, To Write Love On Her Arms. This is a non-profit that helps people deal with depression, addiction, self-injury, or suicide— causes which are deeply rooted in Nothing More’s songs. The guys of Nothing More definitely gave their home state an amazing show that fans won’t soon forget, including a medley of Skrillex and Queen covers that led into their final song, “Salem.”
– Lauren Frederick
– click to enlarge photos –