Gig Review: Nothing

Posted: by Eli


As I wrote last week after seeing Alex G, going into a show with high expectations and leaving with those expectations surpassed is a wonderful feeling. However, there’s also something to be said for going into a show not knowing at all what to expect and leaving in awe. Last night I saw Nothing-a band I liked but wouldn’t have considered myself a legitimate fan of-and left the venue shaking my head in amazement at how much fun I had.

The Philadelphia four-piece play an interesting blend of shoegaze, dream pop, and grunge that they mastered on their sophomore full-length Tired of Tomorrow.The record, released earlier this year via Relapse Records, was produced by the notorious Will Yip (Title Fight, Turnover, Superheaven) who perfectly balanced the airiness and the thickness of the band’s massive, distorted output. Many of the songs feature chunky riffs and heavy rhythms that are channeled through the genre’s trademark “wall of sound” dynamic, but there’s a lethargic, dreamy quality to the them that sits well and doesn’t become overbearing.

However, the band’s appearance is an almost humorously stark contrast to their soothing sound. Three of the four members are coated in tattoos and were dressed in accordance with the traditional hardcore aesthetic, rather than the Brooklyn hipster attire other bands of their ilk employ. They were also blatantly wasted-particularly frontman Domenic Palermo, who jokingly introduced the band as “We’re Nothing from Philadelphia” after every song, and babbled extraneously about the usage of the word “kidnapping” for victims of all ages.

Nevertheless, the bottle of wine they passed amongst themselves didn’t have any impact on their playing ability. None of their songs are complex, but they had undeniable chemistry; finding a groove somewhere in the wash of reverb and distortion, and holding it succinctly. Although their discography includes a number of slower, dronier cuts, they made the right choice by mostly playing from the upbeat, bouncy, and catchy side of their repertoire.

Though the most memorable feature of the performance was how damn loud it was. During the band’s soundcheck, Palermo said to the sound person, “Yeah make it as loud as you can. It probably won’t be loud enough, but you can try.” That wasn’t an exaggeration. The tidal wave of noise they concocted was ear-piercingly loud-easily the loudest I’ve experienced at that venue-but the band was completely unfazed. It was as if years of relentless cacophony had tarnished their eardrums to the point of irreversible disrepair, so why not get even louder?

It quickly became obvious that their songs were designed for the live setting, as the main riffs in tracks like “Get Well” and “Eaten By Worms” exploded outwards like newly unchained beasts. The crunchy breakdown in “Vertigo Flowers” is one of the band’s heaviest moments on recording and it sounded glorious cranking out of their monitors. Even their pop song (by shoegaze standards) “Chloroform” benefited from the sheer volume and intensity of such a cramped, sweaty little room.

Compared to their peers in Pity Sex, who played the same venue a couple months prior, and are also a bunch of ex-hardcore kids playing fuzzed-out, gazey alt-pop, Nothing were insurmountably more engaging. It takes legitimate talent to take songs that are inherently sleepy and translate them into genuinely exciting, memorable rock tunes. Unlike most other bands where I feel satisfied for a good while after seeing them perform, I cannot wait to see Nothing again because I now feel that it’s the only real way to experience their music.