The Bigger, the Better: Nothing But Thieves at the Wonder Ballroom

Vortex Music Magazine

The British rockers brought their self-titled debut back to Portland for a second time this year—this time to a larger venue, with help from Civil Twilight and The Wrecks.

Nothing But Thieves have been catching radio airwaves in Portland for about a year. Since their song “Trip Switch” broke out, they’ve been a popular track on KNRK. With the release of their debut LP, demand grew larger.

Back in May, the Essex, England, five-piece took the stage at Portland’s Star Theater for a sold-out show. With help from Los Angeles band The Wrecks, Nothing But Thieves blew away the Portland audience, proving that their sound was just as large, loud and powerful live as it was on record. This proof made the crowd itch for more. Luckily, it was only a few months until they made their return.

Now playing the larger Wonder Ballroom, Nothing But Thieves brought their live show back to Portland, this time with Civil Twilight and returning opener The Wrecks.

Though the show never hit capacity, fans showed up early for a spot in the front and to catch the night’s openers. The Wrecks reprised their energetic punk rock for a second time in Nothing But Thieves’ opening slot. With an amount of passion in their performances not found in a lot of opening bands, the five-piece put on a show that had the growing crowd dancing and jumping as soon as they walked in the door.

Civil Twilight, a band Nothing But Thieves have been compared to, jumped into the second opening slot. It was a drastic change from the upbeat, adrenaline-filled set by The Wrecks before them. Civil Twilight opted for long intros and an easy set you might listen to while lying in the sun. The crowd seemed to enjoy it just as much though, becoming engaged in all the South African outfit had to offer.

As Civil Twilight closed their set, the crowd closed in on the stage for the headliners. With the ballroom not quite at capacity, there was still room for fans in the back to dance along to the music Nothing But Thieves were soon to bring.

The headlining act kicked things off with their song “Itch,” and right from the get-go, it was apparent that the larger venue, or the four months in between Portland appearances, had served them well. Leading man Conor Mason’s vocals broke through the powerful rock riffs opening the song and filled the room with the same passion and sonic intensity that anyone who attended their first Portland performance could recall.

Playing through a set of songs off their debut record, Nothing But Thieves showed just how much a little bit of time and a larger crowd can improve upon something that seems to have no room to do so. Though their Star Theater set wowed, their second run through the Rose City raised the bar, upping the energy and production into something simply raw and beautiful.

With a better lighting setup than the Star and fans who had soaked in every word and note of the music, Nothing But Thieves hit every checkmark for what a true show should be. If Portland is lucky enough, perhaps we’ll see their third set soon, maybe at an even larger venue.

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