Philadelphia was the last stop on melodic hardcore outfit One Step Closer’s first proper headlining tour featuring opening acts Soul Blind, Life’s Question, and Struck Nerve. Originating from a small town in Pennsylvania just 2 hours north of Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre’s One Step Closer carries a vigor that proves they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of fast and energetic music. And so are their listeners.
Philadelphia was a fitting conclusion to this tour considering the city’s role as a hardcore stomping ground. The genre thrives here thanks to the tight-knit Philly hardcore community that lives and breathes it. The result? An explosive performance at Underground Arts from not only One Step Closer, but their supporters too.
The sense of solidarity immediately beamed into every corner of the room as vocalist Ryan Savitski repeatedly pointed his mic into the crowd and jumped all over the stage in a fast-paced, high-energy whirlwind, inviting everyone to unleash their energy and creating a shared space of chaos and community combined. The barrier between artist and listener was broken. We were in this experience together.
This experience was not limited to your average show experience. One Step Closer’s songs are packed tight with emotion that burst at the seams with every vocal wail. Melancholy, longing, and more were sent to splatter the walls of the basement-meets-venue. Their quick instrumentation was emotionally invigorating and their slow parts carried weight. The crowd didn’t just passively witness this all; they felt it too. Everyone eagerly matched the band’s energy and meaning behind the motivation to move. This was an audience full of life and love for the band’s transparency. Songs like “Lead to Gray,” “The Reach,” and “Pringle Street” were perfect examples of painfully poignant fan favorites brought to life as they, too, brought the crowd to life.
Without fail, every song on One Step Closer’s set elicited impassioned movement from someone in the room. Bodies were constantly flying off the stage and being caught by one another or pushing neighboring bodies with playful intensity. It was a free for all frenzy of motion and emotion, bodies driven by feelings to move and to cope with the very feelings that inspired the band to write their songs in the first place.
One Step Closer also visited their latest EP, Songs for the Willow, in their set. “Dark Blue” and “Turn to Me” were special songs to experience live as they marked an evolution in the band’s sound. While these songs lean into the more melodic side of things, they still achieved that authentic One Step Closer desire to express and reflect. Written about the band’s consistent cycle of touring in 2022 and the personal sacrifices made affecting ties at home as a result, these songs delivered an added layer of simultaneous hardship, yet genuine passion for performing that were both sincerely felt with every vocal cry. With nods to their hometown weaved in and out of past and present releases, it’s clear that the band’s Wilkes-Barre roots are strong and that Wilkes-Barre hardcore will always be ingrained in their identity. Philadelphia was lucky to experience it that night.
You can always tell when an artist is authentic in their love for what they pursue. One Step Closer is the epitome of this. Passion escapes into the band’s performance with every leap into the air and their showgoers return it with every word shouted back. With 1 tour under their belt for the year and 2 more already announced and quickly approaching, One Step Closer continues to emerge from that small Pennsylvania mountain town and into the world all while adding something incredibly valuable to live music: emotional rawness, authentic intensity, and impassioned community.
Show date: 01.22.23 | Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts