Nothing is a shoegaze/noise rock band from Philadelphia that formed in 2011. It rose from the ashes of the hardcore punk band Horror Show, some years after Horror Show broke up. Going from hardcore punk to shoegaze seems weird, I admit, but a lot of new shoegaze bands (or "newgaze", if you prefer) have come from a large background of disparate genres. Nothing's frontman, guitarist/vocalist Domenic Palermo, still carries some hardcore punk cred to this day: he served a few years in prison after stabbing a man in a bar brawl. He was charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder. If all that doesn't scream "HARDCORE PUNK!" then I'm not sure what does.

A few years passed and the novelty of the hardcore scene faded away, replaced by music inspired by the original shoegaze movement from the early 1990s while retaining some of the punk/metal sensibilities drawn from Palermo's punk roots. The band is even signed to a label—Relapse Records—that's known more for its heavy metal releases than anything else.

As of 2018, Nothing has released two full-length albums, Guilty of Everything (2013) and Tired of Tomorrow (2016), and three and a half EPs: Poshlost (2011), Suns and Lovers (2012), Downward Years to Come (2012) and a split EP with Whirr, simply titled Whirr/Nothing. Each band contributed two songs.

The music itself is very noisy, definitely towards the My Bloody Valentine style of shoegaze, and full of dreamlike feedback. It also has some stripped-down acoustic moments here and there. Guilty of Everything, the band's first full album, is astonishingly good. It combines all the finest elements of what makes shoegaze wonderful and presents them in such a way that one cannot help but be mesmerized by it. Thus far, one single, "Dig", has been released, and the remainder of the album (as well as the EPs) are available for lisetening and/or purchase at Nothing's BandCamp site. Nothing compares very favorably to MBV (natch), The Jesus and Mary Chain, Medicine (sans the female vocals), and Whirr (another shoegaze revival band).

Nothing is a part of the revitalized shoegaze movement, known in some circles as "newgaze", and, while not exactly one of the leading figures, is certainly an essential part of its anatomy. The lyrics are forlorn and far away, the guitars turned way up and processed heavily, the bass guitar steady but not extremely audible, and the drums are provided by a live drummer rather than a computer.

In spite of all this, Nothing is a terrible band to see live. I saw them last week, on tour with two metal bands (Wrong and Torche), in which they were the second of the three bands to go on. They took about three hours to set up all their gear and get it in tune after Wrong left the stage. It was supremely frustrating. What second band on a three-band bill takes three hours to set up? This is my first experience with such a band. Granted, I can't speak for their other shows as I have seen them only once, but if the show I saw is indicative of their other shows, I don't plan to see them in concert again. Despite this, there was a kind of "we're doing the best we can" vibe going on, but in the end, their set was so extremely loud that the songs suffered, becoming naught but incomprehensible noise, although I could make out a few of the verses and some chord structures. Again I must stress that the show was LOUD. Had I known it would be as loud as it was, I'd have brought earplugs (I'm old, I know, but I value my already-damaged sense of hearing). But when it's so loud that you can't even really hear it, what's the point of playing live at all? The music is much better heard pre-recorded in a non-concert setting, e.g., listening to Guilty of Everything while smoking pot or indulging in a cozy nap, the music coming whisperingly from my iPhone as I drift off into sleep.

The high quality of Nothing's recorded music versus the poor quality of their live show is so distinctive that it's difficult to determine that the same band performed in both media. So, while I love the recorded music, the live music almost makes me dislike the people in the band just for making me stand in a venue that was far too small for their sound, for hours, then nearly making my eardrums explode with the monstrously high volume that they kept telling the soundboard operator to turn up on the mics and monitors between songs. Then again, who am I to judge? I'm not much of a musician (anymore—but that's... another story), and I gather that how they perform in concert is how they prefer to perform, which is how it should be.

That said, I cannot recommend this band's recordings enough. It's a new and fresh take on my favorite musical genre, and I expect their next album to be spectacular as well. In short, listen to this music. Trust me. You'll love it, if you're into this kind of music. It's beautiful. Just don't go see them live as it's a waste of time; at least it was at the Wrong/Nothing/Torche show that I saw.



WP: Nothing (band) Nothing (12)
BandCamp: Nothing - Nothing
Official site (actually a Tumblr)

I have seen this band live one time: Detroit, 2015 (with Wrong and Torche)