Somehow I knew it would take Nonpoint playing at a venue like The Emerson Theater to make me a believer of their live show. I saw them once at Dirty P’s (a.k.a. Piere’s) in Ft. Wayne, but recall it as one of my worst concert experiences thanks to the crazed moshers who left me trembling in the very back of the crowd for the entire show. Last fall, Nonpoint opened for Mudvayne at The Egyptian Room, but the over-populated concert hall made for an impersonal, low-energy show. However, after Wednesday night (one of the best, most invigorating hard rock concerts I’ve seen as of late) I can finally drop my conviction that Nonpoint is a band I can only appreciate on record and not live.
In a world of mainstream music that’s full of band wagon-jumpers, the undersized group of people who assembled for the Emerson show was refreshing. It meant that while the attendance numbers were likely lower than promoters would like to see, those who were there were fans in the truest sense. They knew the classics, yet called out for songs from the new album. “This one’s for you, mother f*@&er!” front man Elias Soriano yelled and pointed as Nonpoint played Lucky #13 from the new album Miracle at request. In stark contrast to Ft. Wayne’s Nonpoint fan base, Indy folk were engaged with the band, yet courteous of one another.
Endurance runs through the veins of Nonpoint’s four members. Drenched in sweat for the entire show, Soriano once asked the people if they were ready to go crazy. “See this?” he asked while pointing to perspiration dripping from his arms. “I’m workin’ up here. You better start workin’ with me!” Bassist Ken MacMillan and guitarist Zach Broderick were saturated as well, plainly evident as they took turns at the edge of the stage making war faces and shredding their guitars inches from heads in the crowd. Drummer Robb Rivera was less observable due to his distant sideways position at the back of the stage. His unique placement, however, provided an optimum view of his vicious, animal-like hammering on the drum set.
Nonpoint’s music takes on a different persona in a live setting. Intentional distortion makes some songs barely recognizable. Caught up in the intenseness of head-banging mayhem, the players’ rhythms can sometimes become disjointed. But rather than discredit the band as musicians, the raw nature of their show only enhances their reputation as entertainers and puts a unique twist on their library of songs. Constant eye contact, never-ending movement on stage, and flowing conversation directed at fans made the show personal, exclusive, and memorable.