There’s something special about seeing a band grow from its infancy of playing small gigs to a mature and confident act. You go from watching a few people who are still figuring out their sound, to a band that knows who they are and how to play with each other.
That’s what Huntington, West Virginia’s Ona has become. After four years of putting in the work playing bars, clubs, and small venues and recently opening for acts like Columbus’ Caamp and Tyler Childers, the band has become an undeniably great show.
Saturday evening Ona returned to the Southgate House Revival in Newport to play a close and intimate show. Opening with what is becoming a one of their strongest live songs Golden Highway Deserter, the band kicked off an up-tempo show.
With the first half of the set consisting of mostly unrecorded new material, the band did confirm that they hope to have their follow up to 2016’s American Fiction out in the spring of 2019.
Two songs that have become personal favorites of mine are Summer Candy and True Emotionthe songs highlight lead singer Bradley Jenkins’ ability to write emotional and heartwarming songs, while on the stage it translates into catchy choruses. A look around in the crowd of an Ona show often has people singing and dancing along, even if just introduced to the band.
What has become the most fun part about Ona’s stage presence though would have to be from keyboardist Brad Goodall. Goodall has not only become often the voice of the band in between songs giving the audience witty banter but, his contribution to the live sound is now essential. Like Garth Hudson was to the Band, Goodall is a key component in making Ona sound bigger.
Often times one will try and draw comparisons to another artist to try and give someone a better understanding of what they may sound like, and in their early days one could definitely have drawn comparisons to a band like Wilco. But Ona has now solely become themselves and sound unique in every way.
Another testament to what their live act and touring has done to their sound and their songwriting. With Ona’s name recognition growing in towns across America now, to see an intimate show like Saturday’s felt special. If you have a chance to see this band in the Cincinnati area again you better free your schedule. Soon, this band will be playing venue’s Like the Taft Theatre and the days of small rooms will be long gone.