Lincoln Hall looks a little grim with the leaves blowing around outside and the line for the show wrapping alongside the dark alley nearby. Fairly accommodating for a Nothing show, the Philly shoegazers are back in town supporting this year’s release, Dance on the Blacktop with Smut and Culture Abuse supporting this leg of the tour.
Cincinnati’s Smut opens the night up with a set more-eye opening than their name. They’re a five-piece combining an array of techniques that sounds straight out of the ’90s. At times they sound like a poppier version of Hole, at other times the best version of Sonic Youth. Cohesive and mesmerizing, the set makes me yearn for more despite the anticipation of tonight’s other acts.
Shockingly there aren’t too many drunken bodies walking through the crowd despite tonight’s later start. As the set change wraps up, a sea of signs connected to 2×4 pieces of wood are being carried around on the stage, all hand painted with “Culture City,” “Keep It Tuff,” and “Tune It Up.” It’s safe to say Culture Abuse has arrived and made their presence known. The squad of five stumbles on stage as everyone’s distracted by all the signage; they quickly break out into “Bay Dream” off of this year’s album, Bay Dream. It shows off the band’s new direction with more singing than screaming from vocalist David Kelling. After a few more bangers Kelling starts rambling about how tonight’s show is being recorded and it’ll be online for everyone to watch in the future, (all thanks to Audiotree). His beachy shirt and short cut hair reminds me of Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine. They rip through a few others from Bay Dream as well as “Dream On” and “Turn It Off” from their 2016 album Peach, while their friends holding signs have invaded the crowd with their shenanigans. The crowd has erupted multiple people try their best to stage dive and ‘open up the pit.’
As odd as it sounds, the room has become more accessible some concertgoers drop off as Nothing prepares to take the stage. You can barely make out any of the musicians with the dim lighting and the gigantic “Our World Is Nothing” banner. There’s a brief eerie intro before the slow strumming begins for “Zero Day,” the leading track off of Nothing’s 2018 album Dance on the Blacktop. Guitarist and vocalist Dominic Palermo and Brandon Setta’s voices intertwine and stand alone throughout the night but this first song showcases their progression after 2016’s Tired of Tomorrow. We get another faint track, an intermission of “The Right Somebody to Love” by Shirley Temple, that’s immediately followed up with “A.C.D (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder)” and “Vertigo Flowers” from Tired of Tomorrow. Bob Bruno from Best Coast actually takes the stage and fills in for Brandon Setta during “Vertigo Flowers,” while Setta roams through the crowd with a mask on singing. “Watch out for those, who want to be, anything that at all.”
Nothing’s set goes up and down, some of the new content doesn’t mix well with older content, but by no means are they bad…maybe just a little boring at times. They close out the night with “Get Well,” from 2014’s Guilty of Everything. It makes watching the whole set worthwhile and has me wishing I saw the band earlier in their career.