LIVE: Nothing @ Hoxton Bar & Grill, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

It may have only been a handful of months since the shoegaze masters last graced our shores, but clearly Nothing are ready for their third visit to the UK. Last time round when they played Moth Club there were people stage diving off the PA system and far more crowd participation that you would liken to a hardcore audience rather than shoegaze. This time around however, they erect a 10 foot banner behind them, stand on a much taller stage, and play to a less physically active but larger crowd.

As understandably it would be impossible to pull in a piano just to play the title track of their latest album, the recording plays as they make their way on stage and still manages to set the desolate tone for the evening. The absence of Nick Bassett on this tour is unexplained on social media but the band carry on as if the fill in bassist had been with them since the beginning.

Lyrically speaking¬†the overtones of growing up in Philadelphia,¬†drug abuse, depression, anxiety and general nihilism are rather obvious when analysed and heard on record.¬†In a live setting however, if one wasn’t aware of them you’d be deceived by the dreamy aesthetic of their music.

Even with all the catchy melodies and luscious textures present in their music, the lyrical content of tracks like ‘Vertigo Flowers’ and ‘Chloroform’ is anything but upbeat and appropriate to dance to, yet it all works perfectly. Dominic Palermo and Brandon Setta sound somewhat off-key at times but the combined efforts of their voices drown perfectly into the ethereal mix. The term ‘breakdown’ shouldn’t really fit when describing a shoegaze band but Nothing’s heavier influences drip into their live showcasing of tracks such as ‘Bent Nail’ and ‘B&E’, building up an ear shattering wall of noise juxtaposing with the harmonious reverb.

Palermo brandishes a bottle of Jameson’s whiskey, tells jokes to the audience, and manages to¬†settle¬†down audience members whom for some reason desperately want to hear an Oasis cover. Their downbeat song material comes naturally; unforced and enjoyable. Palermo even hops off the stage at one point with his guitar so audience members can finish off the last verse to ‘Eaten By Worms.’

Despite delving through twelve songs in total, Nothing’s triumphant return has the audience begging for more. With any luck they’ll be back with us in no time, and any risk of post gig tinnitus will be worth it to see them again. Blissfully bleak and full of depth, tonight has proven that the Philly shoegazers are at the top of their game.

ASHWIN BHANDARI

For more photos from the show, head to our gallery.