I’m not sure if this one’s my final post of 2019, or if I’ll slip one more into the mix before December 31st’s witching hour. I’m still fairly low energy tonight, and tomorrow’s up in the air, being New Year’s Eve and all. So if I end the decade with Nothing, then it’s as good a way as any to go out.
This show’s another gem from earlier in the month, the Philly-based hardcore-turned-shoegaze act performed at the Echoplex on 12.08.19. Of course, I intended to pen and post this one sooner, because a friend was interested in checking out the footage. I don’t see him that often, so the blog is my preferred way to disseminate such things. But like all good intentions that have passed due, Nothing also fell through the cracks and into my lengthy, overstuffed queue.
Thankfully, I’ve been in a motivated mindset, trying to clear as much of the literary ledger of aural listening delights as I’m capable, all before the clock runs out on 2019. So here we are …
Nothing’s been an indie fav of mine since their brilliant dream-gazed, feedback-glazed 2014 debut album, “Guilty of Everything.” They had this wonderful track titled “B&E” that reminded me of some retro-future 60s exotic John Barry-esque spy theme, if it was cranked to 11 and wrapped in a blanket of glistening white noise. I even wrote up a bit on it back in February. You can check that out here. And you can watch their live rendition from the show below.
Nothing perform “B&E” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
Of course, I was more than a little pleased to hear “B&E” peformed live. I caught Nothing back when “Guilty of Everything” debuted. But I don’t recall them playing it. Maybe they did. It was awhile ago. But since my memory ain’t what it used to be, this might as well be my first time hearing it live. And it was glorious.
As you can probably guess by now, Nothing leans pretty heavy into the noise, whipping up a slick and stylish whirligig of six-string wash and reverb. The wall of sound is appropriately heavy, yet surprisingly approachable and entirely listenable, without destroying your ears, or rattling your nerves. There’s also a mature pop mentality that rounds out some of the inherently rougher edges, particularly those steeped in the past life of hardcore punk and metal-minded madness.
Not surprisingly, the sonic weight makes itself significantly more prominent in the live setting. But that’s as it should be. Because these songs are meant to be experienced at maximum loudness, full of overwhelming power and volumetric intensity.
Here’s a few tracks that fit that bill, as best as an iPhone can capture in both sound and vision. There’s no substitute for the real thing. But that doesn’t stop these clips from showcasing one hell of a show.
First off is the single “Blue Line Baby” from their most recent 2018 album “Dance on the Blacktop,” which almost reminds me of a Seattle grunge tune, or something the Smashing Pumpkins might have tried in their earlier days, albeit with a shoegaze shimmer in mind.
Nothing perform “Blue Line Baby” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
“Downward Years to Come” and “Tic Tac Toe” play to their noisier strengths, fast and furiouser, indie rock in a reverb blender, played hard and loud, but soft enough to evoke dreamy licks and smooth vocal whispers. It’s a curious equilibrium that works in its own hypnotic way. Such things are easy to get lost in, as the girl seated next to me clearly did, drifting away, eyes closed, shoulders swaying, her smiling lips hinting at the aural bliss she was fully immersed in.
Nothing perform “Downward Years to Come” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
Nothing perform “Tic Tac Toe” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
Nothing also has a number of mellower tracks that slow the roll, and slide into a dream-pop etherium of meditative contemplation and kaleidoscopic mesmer. “Somersault” and “(Hope) is Just Another Word with a Hole in It” best fit that bill, but the slightly more severe “The Dead are Dumb” also offers its own terms of transcendence.
Nothing perform “Somersault” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
Nothing perform “The Dead are Dumb” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
Nothing perform “(Hope) is Just Another Word with a Hole in It” @ the Echoplex on 12.08.19.
According to frontman and founder Dominic Palermo, this is probably going to be the last Nothing show for awhile. The fourpiece are taking a break, then heading back to the studio to record some new tunes. That should be something to look forward to, whenever that comes to pass.
In the meantime, enjoy these various clips, as well as the setlist, which I’ve embedded below. It’s a well-rounded curation of Nothing’s three albums, as well as a couple of cool additional odds and ends.
And if this is the last post of 2019, then have a Happy New Year! If not, then I’ll see you tomorrow. Either way works for me.
Until the next one …