Nico Vega and Oh No Fiasco Deliver Hard-Hitting Rock at Nashville’s Exit/In

August 25, 2013

Nashville’s the Exit/In, a classic yet almost easy to miss venue, recently played host to Los Angeles band Nico Vega, an up-and-coming powerhouse of a band known for their mix of musical elegance and gritty energy.  The opening band, Oh No Fiasco, with whom  Nico Vega share a label, combine alternative rock roots with a sometimes cutesy punk flair.

Oh No Fiasco opens, immediately setting the bar for showmanship. The band’s lead singer, Lindsey Stamey, is a complete fireball on stage, melting faces right off the crowd as the band plows full force through the first song of their set. The stage is completely electric as the five members of the band bounce, dance, and enjoy what they obviously love to do. Theatrics are integral to the band’s performance, exemplified in moments where the band’s drummer spits water onto the drums while playing, showering himself and the stage, or when the keyboardist places a small keyboard on another member’s feet and plays through the remainder of the song.

Oh No Fiasco ends their unfortunately short set with Stamey singing from the balcony seating of the venue. The group is an obvious crowd-pleaser as fans on the floor show their affection and admiration as she swaggers on through.

Following Oh No Fiasco, Nico Vega takes the stage. Lead singer Aja Volkman approaches the mic, looping vocals in harmony as the band forms onstage. The performance is very personal, humble even. For a band that’s known for exemplifying a rebel spirit, they’re all terribly mild-mannered.

Not to say they can’t kick out a jam like no other.

Volkman’s vocals are high-flying, soulful, and smooth as silk one minute, then growling and full of all the raw passion you’d expect from someone who stands on a steel barrel and sings while beating the sides like a drum. Her showmanship onstage is energetic, swaying and dancing from side to side, hands raised or slapping cymbals of the band’s drum set. Her passion and feeling for the music itself is soul-touching on a real level.

Not surprising coming from a band that considers itself more a way of life than just an expression of musical talent.

The set features songs from the band’s self-titled album of 2009 and their recently released EP, Fury Oh Fury. The band opens with “Lead To Light,” leading into “Fury Oh Fury” and “Lightning,” all songs from their current EP.

In the midst of the fury and passion comes the song “Wooden Dolls,” a slow, expressive tune about the unity of people and also the barriers we create, all sung from atop the aforementioned steel barrel onstage. Volkman’s sincerity is clearly visible in her presentation of the lyrics. It’s pleading, hopeful, and beautiful in every way.

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One of the band’s more easily recognizable songs, “Gravity” begins slow with floating guitar and ethereal vocalization, but suddenly exploding into life as the song picks up pace, delivering hammering drum beats alongside Volkman’s vocal power as she sings about the oppression of conformity.

The set closes with the band’s powerhouse anthem: “Beast.” Featured in the trailer for the video game Bioshock Infinite and also a trailer for film Pacific Rim, this song alone is at least partly responsible for the band’s recent success, and it’s very clear why.

The song begins with a pounding, militant drum and heavily distorted guitar. The guys and girls of Nico Vega know what this song means for listeners, fan or otherwise, and they deliver on every level. It’s everything the band is about, rejection of oppression and a demand for unity amongst all people against the “beast of America.” That passion is palpable, almost a lusting passion for defiance against whatever it is that holds us down and forces its will on us.

It’s the perfect note to end on for a band with their level of conviction and proof that Nico Vega is everything that’s still right with rock and roll today. –Jordan D. Frye, Contributing Editor