Telling the Truth with Nothing More In Ybor City

By on March 21, 2019

Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Nothing More continued their meteoric rise throughout the rock stratosphere by playing to a sold out crowd at the Ritz Theatre in Tampa’s historic Ybor City on Sunday Night. Out in support of their Grammy nominated release, The Stories We Tell Ourselves, Nothing More decided to tour with a couple of new and up and coming bands, Palisades and Badflower, along with seasoned veterans, Of Mice & Men.

As Palisades was finishing its set, the line to get into the Ritz Theatre was still around the block, and as I walked in I wondered where all these people were going to go because the place was already packed. While I’ve been in this building numerous times, I haven’t seen The Ritz this crowded since the EDM shows in the mid 90’s when Tampa’s Fire Department was called in due to overcrowding issues. Thankfully they weren’t called in for this show, and as they say, “The Show Must Go On,” and it did when Badflower took the stage to the delighted screams of the ladies at the rail.


Anthony Sonetti Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Badflower started their set with the rocking “x ANA x.” The song and the accompanying video goes through the symptoms and the situations that some, if not most, people deal with when they are addicted to Xanax. From anxiety, mood swings, and personality changes, singer Josh Katz hits the nail on the head lyrically and theatrically with his facial expressions during the song.


Josh Katz Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Danny Hechter Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Badflower continued its set with three more up-tempo songs until things took another drug-inspired direction with its latest single, “Heroin.” The song isn’t about the drug per se, but it’s used as a metaphor for a toxic relationship. Badflower followed up with its biggest single to date, “Ghost.”  The song’s lyrics describe self-harm and suicide from a first person point of view. It was during this song that Badflower got the biggest reaction from the crowd. They also had a few images on the screen including the band name and most notably “buy merch” which flashed quickly behind the band. Badflower then finished its set with another high-energy track, “Animal” off Badflower’s 2016 EP, Temper.


Josh Katz Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Badflower’s charismatic frontman and guitar player, Josh Katz, has “rock star” written all over him. He reminds me a bit of Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. It also seems from his lyrics that he may have some of the same personal demons as Cobain’s, but let’s hope that Katz and Badflower don’t suffer the same fate.

Alex Espiritu Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Valentina Arteaga OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)

Next up after a short break was Of Mice & Men. The Orange County, California natives have been around since 2009 and have seen plenty of lineup changes, most notably the 2nd departure of its original singer, Austin Carlisle. With Carlisle out of the band, and bassist Aaron Pauley taking over on lead vocals, Of Mice & Men’s sound has gotten much heavier to the delight of some fans in the crowd. The band started off with the aggressive single “Warzone,” and kept the intensity up throughout their whole set. The crowd got moving and a pit opened up during “Defy,” and “How To Survive.”

Aaron Pauley OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)

Pauley was notified by the crowd and his soundman that the band was having P.A. problems, but the situation was quickly rectified and Of Mice & Men’s crushed The Ritz with “Unbreakable.” The song had one of the more catchier verses and chorus of its set which got the crowd and mosh pit going to an extreme level. A few fans were escorted, or should I say, thrown out of the venue. One attendee was taken to the hospital, and I later found out that he had to have three staples put into his skull when he returned later to try to meet the guys in Nothing More (and run his mouth about the security guys.)


Alan Ashby OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)

The dual guitar tandem of the very talented Alan Ashby and Phil Manasala shredded through the last track of their set in “You Make Me Sick with drummer Valentina Arteaga crushing the skins. Of Mice & Men left the stage with the crowd drenched in sweat (and some blood) and a line to the ladies room literally going out to the street. Water and booze was flying off the shelves as the fans waited for the boys from San Antonio to hit the stage.



Phil Manasala OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)

Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

After an extended delay to get the stage setup, Nothing More arrived on stage behind a white curtain, with vocalist, Jonny Hawkins standing on a make-shift ladder, turning a siren as the crowd stared at his silhouette. The curtain dropped and the stage went red with rotating lights and strobes flashing to the opening notes of “Let It Burn.” Nothing More continued their blistering start with the thunderous and drum heavy, “Christ Copyright.” As usual, the shirtless and shoeless Hawkins grabbed a pair of drumsticks and pounded on a huge floor tom joining drummer, Ben Anderson, in perfect synchronicity.


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)
Ben Anderson Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Nothing More continued their set with seven songs from The Stories We Tell Ourselves that included, “Do You Really Want It,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Go To War.” During the end of “Do You Really Want It,” Hawkins extended the mic into the crowd after singing “Everybody wants to change the world (we can change it all)” and let the crowd finish the track with “No one ever wants to change themselves.” It was another emotionally electric and another memorable moment with the guys in Nothing More.


Mark Vollelunga Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Nothing More’s eighteen-song-set continued with a half black body-painted Hawkins jumping into the photo pit for “Mr. MTV” from its 2014 breakout self-titled release. I have it on good authority that Jonny’s body paint was a shout-out to the artist that came up with The Stories We Tell Ourselves‘ album cover which features a white head with two black hands over the eyes.


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Hawkins addressed the crowd stating that a dollar from every ticket sold on  the tour was going to the two charities that they brought on tour with them, the Head Count Foundation and To Write Love on Her Arms. The Head Count Foundation’s mission is to promote Democracy, and To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit whose mission is presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide which Hawkin’s sister Jenna struggles with to this day.


Daniel Oliver Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Nothing More continued with two more emotionally crushing hits, “Jenny” and “Fade In/Fade Out,” with “Tunnels” sandwiched in-between. “Tunnels” was actually co-written by Sevendust’s Clint Lowery, and Nothing More concluded the song by adding the chorus from “Here’s to the Heartache.” This sequence of songs combined with Nothing More’s custom backdrop of lights, lasers, strobes and homemade electronics really set the stage for an amazing conclusion.


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

The finishing moves by the band included Nothing More’s The Scorpion Tail contraption that Hawkins rides and plays at the end of “Ballast.”  They then parlayed “Ballast” into a cover of Skrillex’s “First of The Year.”


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Yes, The Scorpion Tail is not just for show but another amazing piece of screaming musical equipment that guitarist Mark Vollelunga, and bassist (and talented welder), Daniel Oliver created. It is a one-of-a-kind piece just like the “Bassinator” that the band created and played on its previous tours.


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Daniel Oliver Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Hawkins then led the crowd in a hair-raising rendition of Queen’s, “We Are The Champions,” and then told the crowd that in 2019 encores are lies and that Nothing More does not do them. Instead they finished off its set as they have done in years past with “Salem,” from the 2009 release, The Few Not Fleeting. If you haven’t seen a Nothing More show before, during “Salem” all four band members jam on  different drums while Oliver helps out and crushes the vocal track.


Daniel Oliver Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

As the house lights went on and the band took a bow, I noticed a few fans in the crowd shaking their heads in disbelief at what they just witnessed. I understood what they felt as this band had this same effect on myself and others when we saw them on their first nationwide tour opening for Adrenaline Mob at the Orpheum in 2013.


Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

The ride with Nothing More continued on a St. Patrick’s Day in Ybor City at The Ritz. Instead of remembering (or not remembering) the holiday because of the partying, the attendees in the Ritz Theater will remember it for an awe-inspiring performance by Nothing More. The band is just a group of four humble and extremely talented guys that have come together to create their own sound, and who continue to earn the respect from its always-growing family of fans and the music community alike.

For additional tour dates that you should definitely check out: https://nothingmore.net/tour/


Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Josh Katz Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)


Valentina Arteaga OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)

Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)

Josh Katz Badflower (Photo-Travis Failey)

Phil Manasala OM&M (Photo-Travis Failey)
Jonny Hawking Nothing More (Photo-Travis Failey)
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1 Comment

  1. Brian Bokor says:

    Nothing More – Such a great show to see live…thanks for sharing these incredible shots!

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