April 5, 2009

Here's to the night - to my coma and my brand new set of eyes.

(April 5th, 2009 Pittsburgh, PA - Altar Bar)

I’ve been to my fair share of concerts. Sometimes I dance, sometimes I scream, sometimes I mosh, sometimes I just listen. I’ve never cried though - that is until last night. April 5th, 2009 was the last time that Once Nothing, self-proclaimed ‘blue collar metal,’ will have played together. In the nine years that Once Nothing has been a band, they’ve played hundreds, quite possibly thousands of shows, but all others pale in comparison to that one.

At both Once Nothing headlining shows that I’ve seen, they’ve done the same thing. Before they begin their set, they dim all the lights and play Alison Krauss’ “Down to the River to Pray” (link) over the venue’s PA system. It creates an indescribable atmosphere, the anticipation gets to everyone. People were crying before Once Nothing even took the stage. When they finally did there was no busting right into the song, Todd Lowry, the band’s vocalist, came right out and told us what the night would consist of (“some old songs and some new songs”), before introducing “Goodbye Hollywood,” from the Earthmover EP. The set was very mixed, very balanced between newer material from their Solid State Records debut, First Came the Law, all the way back to songs that were on very limited EP releases, pre-Voice of the Paragon EP. Four songs from First Came the Law and one from Voice of the Paragon followed, guns a-blazing, and I thought I would certainly lose my voice. The venue is full at 800, and I’d be very surprised if that number wasn’t exceeded. I found myself pinned against the stage for a majority of the set - as far as I’m concerned, it was the place to be.

The next two songs were classics amongst fans of the band. “Gunfire is the Sound of Freedom” and “All My Heroes are Cowboys” both originally appeared on Earthmover EP, but were re-recorded for First Came the Law. There was more audience participation throughout the set than I’ve ever seen at a metal show. “Cowboys” was also kicked off with a phenomenal drum solo by Giuseppe, one of the better drummers around today. He has to be seen live to be fully appreciated.

Following those were two classics in Once Nothing’s repertoire, “How to Build a Sandcastle,” played in full, and “Hand Grenades Solve All My Problems.” They blasted through “Sandcastle,” and the crowd sucked up every second. A few unexpected guests were brought up too, Once Nothing’s very first guitarist and drummer. Many people in the crowd (including myself) had never even seen them before. They had been playing in the band when I was just eight years old. I wasn’t listening to ‘blue-collar metal’ in second grade. It was quite a moment nonetheless.

After “Hand Grenades” Todd came out and told us that these would be the last two songs Once Nothing would ever play. “Whiskey Breath” was first, and this performance was not on par with the last time I saw them, unlike the rest of the set. It was the only song I wasn’t happy with, or at least wasn’t as happy with as I was last May. Following that Todd told us the story of “Waves,” and actually went to tears. Everyone was choked up. It was quite a moment. Finally, he decided it was time, and on the count of three, we saw “Waves” one last time. It was incredible. By the end of the song, right before “Can I get a hallelujah?” the stage was flooded with people. I can’t even begin to describe the sheer emotion that overwhelmed every person in that venue. Instruments were broken, people were crying, screaming, flailing, jumping, it was a beautiful mess. And just like that, Once Nothing was nothing once more.

There are no words for just how much this final show meant to everyone in the venue. It was evident in our faces, in our voices, in our very being there. No one questioned the band’s decision to end their run. We knew it was time, and we knew we should make the most of it. I can’t imagine there was a better way to go out.

set list:
Goodbye Hollywood
The Intimidator
Put Some Stank On It
The Dust of a Town
Juliette or At Least What’s Left of Her
Columbus Wasn’t Looking For America
All My Heroes Are Cowboys
Gunfire is the Sound of Freedom
How to Build a Sandcastle
Hand Grenades Solve All My Problems
Whiskey Breath

This wasn't intended to be a good review. This is just me recounting one of the better concerts I've ever been to.

1 comment:

  1. That was the most sincere emotional show ive ever been to