by Craig Anderson
"You wanna go for a ride??"
As on their album First Came the Law, those were the first words belted by Once Nothing frontman Todd Lowry .... and wow, what a ride it was.
After a two year hiatus, Blue Collar Metal had made its way back to the stage, and hometown fans welcomed it back with open arms, pumping fists, open pits, and strained vocal cords. The band had reunited once before, but that was a one-off show. This show was promised to be the start of something new.
I have to first say that being an opener for a band's comeback show would have to be a somewhat unenviable gig - everyone is clearly there for one band and one band only. To their credit, openers Forever in Fear, Until We Have Faces, and Slaves BC did a great job to elevate the crowd's already heightened anticipation level, with several bands going on to say what an honor it was to be performing on the same stage as Once Nothing. You got the sense from the opening acts that on this night, we were all one united group of fans.
Although the performance marked the beginning of a new chapter, the mood was notably nostalgic - I was able to overhear several conversations that started with "the first time I saw Once Nothing was...", almost as if recounting a shared right of passage that existed in the local music scene five or ten odd years ago. These conversations died down as a massive American flag was unfurled to cover the stage, and the crowd roared each time a silhouette danced across the back-lit stars and stripes. The ride was about to start...
There's probably no metal way to say "we missed you guys", so instead the crowd showed it by unleashing its collective energy (and sanity). The band said "we missed you too" by reciprocating that sheer intensity. Often in reviews it's a cop out to say the crowd was "insane" or "wild", so further explanation is warranted: nearly every person
of the at-capacity crowd sang along to every word
of every song
for the hour long set, which could be heard over the vocals coming out of the PA system (and Altar Bar's sound system is no joke).
They moved with reckless abandonment to every. single. song. This was a loyalty that no national act could hold a candle to in the eyes of the fans, and in terms of energy level per person, it may very well have been one of the greatest crowds I've ever seen.
The insanity in motion (pardon the low quality)
"For those of you who don't know, we are Once Nothing, and we're from here." Lowry said after the opening song. It was safe to assume everyone was aware - this was the hometown team, and fans were thrilled to root for them once again.
Once Nothing played through all the favorites, songs like "The Intimidator", "Juliet or At Least What's Left of Her", "The Dust of a Town", and "Columbus Wasn't Looking for America." They even treated the audience to a new song (the only time you couldn't hear the crowd yelling along). After this reveal, my friend Rick said "alright, let's see if they've still got it", an unspoken thought that was probably in the minds of many in attendance. After the opening riff and the ensuing circle pit that took over the crowd, the answer was a unanimous "yes. yes they do."
The band closed on fan favorite "Waves". At this point it was inevitable that the "ONE MORE SONG!" chant would erupt. Lowry grabbed the microphone and said what would provoke the loudest cheer of the night:
"That was our last song. But this isn't just some reunion show. We're going to write a new album for you guys, and we'll be back very soon." Fans left the venue all smiles, having ended one ride and eager for the next.For more info, check out ThePittsburghScene.com/OnceNothing