Los Angeles-based Now More Than Ever played their first-ever show on Thursday at The Echo, ahead of today’s debut album release for Creatrix. The trio electrified a sold-out crowd playing the new album in full and explained it’s a project four years in the making. It was a celebration of new music and a new era with Now More Than Ever comprised of All-American Rejects frontman and bass player Tyson Ritter, Scott Chesak on keys (All-American Rejects, Panic! at the Disco, Weezer) and Izzy Fontaine on guitar (Taking Back Sunday, Tegan and Sara). Electro-rocker Caroline Kingsbury opened the night and Now More Than Ever were joined by two special guests including Mason Alexander Park and Fontaine’s father, Tony Bolivar on two saxophones simultaneously (but more on that later).
Now More Than Ever, who stylize their band name as N>E launched into “Don’t Rush, Don’t Wait”, but not before Ritter had his hands up to the red lights, later using his fingers to encourage applause during the high-energy song. Yellow beams floated over the band, during the pulsating chorus with Ritter’s voice sounding as powerful as ever, coupled with a presence that took the crowd to another place. Fontaine harmonized during the inspiring bop.
The indie-rock flavored “D-E-A-D Together” had everyone clapping with Ritter at the helm of the madness, decked out in a navy and blue jumpsuit. Fontaine harmonized again and the stadium-ready guitars were stellar, as Ritter flopped his hair every which way, panting by the song’s end with “ah-ah-ahs.”
“Hello Los Angeles,” greeted Ritter. “Are you ready to get lost Los Angeles? The frontman mentioned Now More Than Ever’s first time in “flesh and bone”, adding, that it was a moment they had been planning for years. “You feel that feeling in this room?” The fans clapped back with cheers.
“Heart To Heart” had blue and red lights pulsing, with Chesak joining in on the vocals with Fontaine and Ritter, and Ritter later shouted out a couple bars of the tune, emphasizing the song about connection. Ritter made his way to the very edge of the stage, getting in the faces of the fans for the uptempo “Never Gonna Sleep Again” bringing a little punk and garage rock with a guitar intro from Fontaine that had the epicness of “Footloose” as well as an awesome guitar break. “Can I get an echo?,” asked Ritter. The audience echoed and he said, “I got an echo at The Echo. This is more intimate than I thought.” He went on to describe the next song as a vampire and a werewolf who make an eternal bond that lasts forever. It was recent single “Heels Up+Head Over” with another amazing guitar solo from Fontaine. Ritter’s hands were up again, feeling the energy and he did some experimental dance moves like a zombie, making his way to each musician. It was followed by a huge applause.
Tyson Ritter introduced special guest Mason Alexander Park, saying “I wrote this song for them when I was on the east coast. I wrote the lyrics for this song and it means a lot to me because of the way the world is shitting on a community right now.” He was referring to what was written in Sharpie on Park’s white tank top (God Is Trans), and both Park and Ritter took a moment jumping around in the middle of the crowd to the tune “She’s So Handsome” (with the lyric “Isn’t she handsome, and he’s so beautiful.”) It was a clever reminder that adjectives are gendered, and sort of asks us, why?
Another album gem called “Candle” was amplified with incredible saxophone solos from Fontaine’s father Tony Bolivar. Chesak harmonized wonderfully on the infectious song with a driving beat and excellent production as the crowd clapped and danced along. Bolivar really showed off his skills, at one point with two saxophones at the same time.
Ritter looked out into the distance while intense strobe lights flashed behind the band for the down-tempo, synth-heavy “Skin Tight/Bone Deep”. Chesak and Fontaine were on guitars for the instrumental and Ritter looked like he was wrestling with the mic stand at the back center of the stage, wailing slightly. Ritter’s eyes were wide open for the mid-tempo ballad “Never You”, with gentle, magical guitars and keys, capturing the emotion of the song.
“We are so stoked this actually happened after four years,” said Fontaine. “And our album is out right now.” “Thank you for being here,” said Chesak. “We’ll never forget this,” added Ritter. The band concluded with another crowd-pleaser called “Tragedy” (music video released today), an anthemic rock tune with lively instrumentation and a gang vocal that had Chesak joining his bandmates once more.
Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Tim Aaron