w/ Crown the Empire, Thousand Below, and Dyne Side
Spending my Tuesday nights at the theater is not an unwelcome midweek break. Spending my Tuesday night navigating the makeshift pit of a fully seated theater, well, that was a new one. The Victory Theatre in Evansville, IN, welcomed alternative rock band Nothing More, and I’ll admit my concern upon walking into a venue full of red plush seats with an aging balcony sporting the same. The architecture of the building was stunning and deserved a photo gallery all on its own, but it admittedly gave me difficulty picturing how this night of heavy music was about to go.
I’m here to report that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of metal they packed into the Victory, and this was definitely one of my most memorable shows in recent times. I don’t often know nearly every song from every band—openers included—but Tuesday was an exception. With support from Thousand Below and Crown the Empire, the SPIRITS tour touts a solid lineup of talent.
The show opened with the surprise last-minute addition of Miami-based Dyne Side. These guys impressed the heck out of me, and I will be doing a full write up on them in coming days. The foursome earned their spot on the tour through a competition hosted by Space Zebra where they beat out several other unsigned artists by thousands of votes. Their sound and energy gave me FEVER 333 vibes, and if you’ve ever seen those three, you know they go hard.
Thousand Below took the stage behind Dyne Side, and this is a band I think we will see a lot of in the coming year. My first interaction with Thousand Below came last year when they opened for Bad Omens in Nashville, and I was immediately intrigued by their sound. Forming in 2015, they have toured worldwide ahead of their upcoming album Hell Finds You Everywhere. The band fits snugly into the alternative rock genre, with heavy screams and heavier instrumentals intertwined with softer vocals. They played through several of their biggest songs, opening with the title track of their upcoming album, “Hell Finds You Everywhere.” If you are a new fan of the band, I would recommend starting with “Chemical,” which is a favorite of mine. Seeing it live made me love it even more! The set was a quick but high energy one, and if you missed out you’re in luck because Thousand Below will be playing at Off Broadway in St Louis on July 16th.
Following Thousand Below came Dallas-formed Crown the Empire. I’ve been a big fan of these guys for a while, and this was my first time catching them live. It can be hard to get great photos when all you want to do is headbang, but luckily for us the set offered plenty of opportunity for action shots, which can be seen below. Vocalist Andy Leo ran back and forth, engaging fans from all sides of the theater as he opened the night with “DOGMA,” the title track of their upcoming fifth studio album. Leo shared the stage with Brandon Hoover on guitar, Hayden Tree on bass, and Jeeves Avalos on drums. The ten-song set contained several new tracks, including “Black Sheep,” “Immortalize,” and “In Another Life.” The album was just released on the 28th of this month. “Immortalize,” the first single off the album, is a wonderful mix of screaming and electronic elements; hearing it live was a next level experience. They played through plenty of their older stuff too, including another favorite of mine, “What I Am.”
The headliner of the night followed quickly after Crown the Empire. Boasting a 14-foot ‘Scorpions Tail,’ the shoeless quartet went hard. This was my third time seeing Jonny Hawkins with his mega- talented band, and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Hawkins is one of the highest energy performers I’ve witnessed, rarely slowing down during sets. A smile is forever plastered on his face and no matter how small the venue is, he always seems astonished—and grateful—for the crowd before him. Backed by Mark Vollelunga on guitar, Daniel Oliver on bass, and Ben Anderson drumming, the foursome has some of the best energy—and hair—in the game.
Nothing More embarked on the SPIRITS tour in late March following the release of the album in October. They opened the night with the title track from the album, “SPIRITS,” which is a perfect intro with its soft electronic sound dropping into a guttural scream about 10 seconds in. I’ll admit I often struggle to pick out the bass in songs, but Oliver makes himself well known in “SPIRITS,” putting his talent on display. Nothing More spans genres, and it is difficult to classify many of their songs. There are slower ballads that would be out of place on rock radio, techno grooves, and Hawkins screams which are ever-present and always memorable. The range of their music allows the concert- goer to feel like they are seeing multiple artists performing throughout one show. Hawkins transitioned seamlessly from songs like “Jenny” and “Best Times,” which are slower, to “Turn It Up Like” and “Don’t Stop,” which are two of their faster-paced rock songs. Seeing Hawkins bouncing on his 400-pound ‘Scorpion Tail’ later in the set, I was both fearful for his safety and impressed that they were able to fit the contraption in the theater. It’s safe to say that by the end of the night, the seats of the theater were irrelevant because everyone was on their feet. I can’t say I saw any crowd—uh, seat- surfing, but I was tempted to be the first. This band will always be a must see for me when they are local, and while they have two more shows on this tour in upstate Illinois, St. Louis can only hope to host them again in the near future. Jonny, if you’re reading this, we humbly request your return. Next weekend works for us? | Erica Vining
SPIRITS tour remaining Dates
05.01 | Sacramento, CA | Ace of Spades
05.03 | Los Angeles, CA | The Belasco
05.05 | San Diego, CA | Observatory Northpark
05.06 | Phoenix, AZ | AK Chin Pavillion
05.26 | Bloomington, IL | The Castle Theatre
05.27 | Moline, IL | The Rust Belt