Live Review: Nothing and Milk Teeth – Birthdays, London – 25/11/2014

The hot word on everyone’s lips throughout the last couple of years has been the emo revival, but what of the shoegaze revival? Both genres are seeing their 90s founding fathers reuniting left, right and centre, bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and more recently Ride getting back together to play the songs created whist their cross-Atlantic contemporaries were creating the sad-jams that have resonated across generations of music fans. There has been a groundswell of shoegaze-influenced bands doing well within punk circles, such as Whirr, Pity Sex and the band descending upon Dalston’s Birthdays tonight, Philadelphia’s Nothing.

The lure of Birthdays’ excellent Stacks Poutine (that’s cheese, chips and gravy for the non-Canadophiles amongst you) proved too strong to catch openers Chain Of Flowers, so it was Milk Teeth that were my first sample of tonight’s delights. The Bristolians have been gaining a lot of traction of late, but this seems to be lost on tonight’s Dalston crowd as their downtuned grunge-pop barely raises a smile out of tonight’s gathering. A real shame, as Milk Teeth’s young enthusiasm is infectious, but this seems lost on East London. One hopes a crowd like this doesn’t deter this exciting band from going onto bigger and better things (in spite of them possessing a song with a riff that rather hilariously sounds exactly like ‘Fire Water Burn’ by The Bloodhound Gang) – Dalston’s apathy, I’m sure, is not widely shared amongst Milk Teeth’s audience across the land. (Band: 3.5/5, crowd 0/5)

The main attraction of the night, quartet Nothing, start up their set with an impenetrable wall of noise that never really relents throughout. Even in its short history, Birthdays has built itself a reputation for either sounding brilliant or dreadful, and tonight’s Nothing show falls into the former camp, the low ceilings of this basement playing to the band’s strength of creating a dense sound that swirls around the ears and ensnares the senses of the great many attendees; the hype wagon has clearly had the desired effect, as they’ve sold out this fairly handsomely-capacitied space on their first ever UK tour.

While the guitars create the surrounding maelstrom, at the centre of it is some thunderous drumming; albeit, with an occasional St Anger-esque biscuit tin snare moment. The vocals of Dominic Palermo, formerly of Deathwish Inc hardcore band Horror Show, are barely audible in the mix, but that ceases to matter when tracks like ‘Get Well’ from excellent début album ‘Guilty Of Everything’ sound so rich and sumptuous. Certain trendy webzines with names that rhyme with “Which Spork?” have fastened themselves tightly to this band more than most in the “nu-gaze” scene, and it’s easy to see why. Ending on a euphoric sludgy riff akin to that of the eponymous finale of Converge’s ‘Jane Doe’ (see, name-dropping Deathwish earlier wasn’t completely redundant), Nothing’s premier visit to these shores has been triumphant, and one can easily see the next trip over taking in bigger venues than this one. An emphatic “hello” to the UK, if there is to be a revival, Nothing will surely become amongst the most venerated of the new crop of dream-poppers. (4/5)

Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)

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