Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nothing Live in Manila

This review of Philly shoegaze band Nothing's show here in Manila last January 18 was originally published yesterday in The Flying Lugaw. For this blog though, a few additional notes have been helpfully provided, thus making the below write-up a somewhat more complete version of the one I had written for TFL.

Relapse Records has traditionally been regarded as one of the most prominent extreme metal record labels in the world[1] but it was in 2014 when the said label started dabbling in shoegaze by putting out a record called “Guilty of Everything” by a band simply called Nothing. “Guilty of Everything” left an indelible impression on me as it more than made for a sufficient stand-in while waiting at the time for UK band My Vitriol’s long-gestating full-length follow-up to 2001’s “Finelines[2]. Two years later, Nothing was originally scheduled to have their sophomore album released on Thursday vocalist Geoff Rickly’s own label Collect Records until its major financial backer got himself embroiled in that whole drug price hike controversy, thus prompting the band to return to Relapse who welcomed them back with open arms and put out “Tired of Tomorrow” to much critical acclaim[3].
Nothing has since acquired a larger than life stature as the current torchbearers of the nu-gaze sound with a fanbase usually comprised of people who are either fans of the band within the local hardcore punk scene or those who are keeping tabs on the newer breed of shoegaze bands and prefer their indie music a lot more guitar-driven and aggressive while maintaining a sense of melody. With a huge following all over the world, barely had it crossed my mind before that Nothing would drop by here in the country but the fine folks of Sleeping Boy Collective proved otherwise and that nothing is impossible if done right[4].

Fast forward to January 18, 2017: I headed over to Checkpoint Bar in BF Parañaque at an unusually early time. Filing a whole-day leave of absence[5] from my day job was surely more than worth it as even if I arrived at the venue by around 6pm, I and a few friends were able to get a hold of some official Nothing shirts and caps while supplies still lasted[6]. We also took the opportunity to have our group photo taken with who else but Nothing themselves whose soundcheck wasn’t simply just a bunch of random riffs thrown around as we found ourselves singing along to snippets of “Vertigo Flowers”, “A.C.D.” and “Bent Nail” even before the show proper itself. I was also able to talk to two members of Nothing last Wednesday night, namely vocalist Domenic Palermo who seemed to have taken a liking at the My Vitriol shirt I wore especially for the occasion[7] and drummer Kyle Kimball who was more than game enough to entertain my humble inquiries about his side projects Night Sins[8] and Salvation[9].

Neverdie started the show proper at exactly 8:30pm with some melodic punk. Their set was generally alright even if there still wasn’t much of a crowd by that time as most other attendees that night seemed to be a) finding their way into the venue as some of them have little to almost no idea how to get to Checkpoint Bar, b) braving rush hour traffic on the way to BF Parañaque, or c) having dinner at the convenience store just below the venue itself before going in.


I’ve seen GYHT perform before but instead of their usual three-piece configuration, the band drafted two session members on bass and drums, respectively and played what I think are brand new songs composed especially for last Wednesday night. GYHT had considerably beefed up their sound that night which I could best describe it as the bastard child of Curve and Godflesh with real live drums to boot. Here’s to hoping they would pursue that punchier sound for good.


Underground music scene veterans Typecast, Pastilan Dong and Legarda had then hit the Checkpoint Bar stage last Wednesday night. I can’t help but really notice that people started to trickle inside the venue once Typecast had graced the stage which says a lot about their ability to convince much of their fanbase to head over to Checkpoint and shell out a measly 500 bucks to catch not just them but also a handful of homegrown acts and an internationally renowned shoegaze band[10]. Typecast did only a handful of songs to make room for the other bands slated to perform after them as well as Nothing but their set that night has got to be one of the most memorable for me personally as they included a cover of The Get Up Kids’ anthem “Holiday” and the very first Typecast song I ever heard called “Another Minute Until Ten” which brought back a lot of college memories when they performed it as their closing song.


With Nothing putting some hints of grunge and 90’s alternative in their own take on the nu-gaze sound, it only made sense that Pastilan Dong was included in last Wednesday night’s lineup instead of, say, that other local act claiming to be “the only grunge band in Manila” who still have a lot to prove for such high-minded talk. Even putting aside the fact that all of its members were already full-fledged adults during the peak of grunge music’s popularity, Pastilan Dong has grunge written all over their sound with those fuzzy guitars and slacker vocals[11]. As someone who grew up in the grunge era, I could safely say that Pastilan Dong is the real deal and anyone who wants to relive the magic of the 90’s should go see them at least once in their lifetime.

Pastilan Dong

Having just come out of hiatus some months back, Legarda is out to reclaim post-rock from its local bastardization via twinkly tunes for couples romantically holding hands. With a sound leaning more towards the aggression of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Envy’s later records and Mogwai, Legarda’s highly energetic performance from last Wednesday night is a reminder as to how anyone who wants to form a post-rock band in the local music scene should really be doing it.


Any Sleeping Boy Collective show wouldn’t be complete of course without the Internet’s favorite band: Beast Jesus. After basically having followed most of their live performances from before, I was more than relieved to finally hear Beast Jesus do a slightly different set even despite having only two songs in it, namely “Corpse Medicine” and their most recently released 15-minute song “Eros Obfuscate” that was performed live for the first time last Wednesday night. Another first that happened last Wednesday night was when some of us in the crowd formed a pit which is frankly already long overdue for a band whose music surely warrants one. I’m so glad to have finally seen Beast Jesus perform to a crowd that was mostly moving along to those two songs they just did that night.

Beast Jesus

Last but definitely not the least, Philadelphia’s very own Nothing treated us all to a special performance that lasted for more than a full hour. I was more than pleasantly surprised that the band decided to include in their set last Wednesday night some of their songs that almost never make it at all[12] in most of their live shows I’ve seen[13] as part of my own preparation for their show here in the country.


As if that wasn’t enough, Nothing even invited the vocalist of GYHT to join them onstage that night for a one-of-a-kind rendition of their song “Vertigo Flowers”[14].

Not quite sure if anyone had noticed but Nothing’s show last January 18 marked the third time a shoegaze band from abroad visited the country[15] and a long five years at that since the last one[16]. Here’s to hoping many more international shoegaze acts would make it to the country anytime soon.

1 It should be noted here however that Relapse Records has also had a rich history of putting out records of a more electronic nature, most recent of which was “RR7349” by Austin synthwave group S U R V I V E (whose two members are best known for their contribution to the soundtrack of the hit web series “Stranger Things”).
2 The Secret Sessions” which has been out for quite a while now.
3 “Tired of Tomorrow” even secured the 48th spot in Pitchfork’s 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of All Time which says a lot as to just how good that said record really is.
4 See what I did there?
5 A recently published Facebook note that was the first to put out a post-show review would surely agree with what I just did.
6 Most of the official band shirts were reported to have been sold out faster than I could finish this write-up, a sure bummer for those who arrived at the venue later than the announced show start time of 8pm.
7 I was also more than surprised to find out that Nothing has yet to tour with My Vitriol; hoping really hard for a Nothing and My Vitriol co-headlining tour to happen in the UK anytime soon.
8 Coming out with their third full-length sometime around April or May this year.
9 One of the few bands whose distinct vocals sets them apart from the rest of their peers; I believe I told Kyle that night to send my regards to their vocalist Matthew Adis.
10 Their inclusion in the homegrown lineup definitely helped in meeting last Wednesday night’s expected turnout.
11 Shoutout to Pastilan Dong’s newly drafted member who had his own moment to shine last Wednesday night with a really neat bass solo.
12 Namely, “Hymn to the Pillory”, “The Dead Are Dumb” and closing song “Downward Years to Come
13 Including their “Tired of Tomorrow” record release show at Union Transfer which was prominently featured in the band’s music video for “Curse of the Sun
14 Which can be viewed in its entirety here; GO ATEGURL!!
15 The other two bands being The Radio Dept. and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
16 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s show held at Hard Rock Cafe Makati last February 2012.

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