Nothing / Culture Abuse / Wrong - Live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Nothing / Culture Abuse / Wrong

Live in Cambridge (2016)

live show

Locals Gold Muse got tapped to open this real solid headliner Nothing has for the east coast, with Culture Abuse and Wrong in tow. Like Nothing, they play a kinda shoegazey ‘90s alternative style, yet the two don't sound remotely alike, actually. In fact it was pretty hard to pin them to a singular genre; not that this band would otherwise be an apt comparison either, but they had dark wave keyboards that reminded me a lot of the same kind of keys used on the Twilight Sad’s No One Can Ever Know. It was an alright start to the gig that would more or less get better with every following act.

Nothing’s Relapse labelmates Wrong were up next and kicked it into high gear with their sludgy alt-rock that never really let up in energy or tempo. They have ex-members of Torche, Kylesa, and Capsule, which actually gives off a decent idea of what they sound like. Though there wasn’t a ton of variety, they blasted through a half-hour that honestly stayed compelling all the way through and had plenty of people in the slowly thickening crowd headbanging, clearly open to the melange of styles on display that night.

Culture Abuse is certainly an interesting band on a number of levels. I remember first checking them out in 2013 because Defeater bassist Mike Poulin was in the band for their first EP (at least, I’m pretty sure he was, but currently there’s no proof on the internet to back my memory), on which they delivered grungy, noisy hardcore that could be likened to Pissed Jeans. By their next single they had started to transform, eventually resulting in their new album, Peach, on which they sound like a totally different yet no less quality band. It’s one of the few punk records in years I could accurately call “fun” and also enjoy: high-octane, garage-tinged pop-punk of sorts as played by hardcore dudes, like some sort of weird mix of Wavves and contemporaries Drug Church and Angel Du$t. Live this translated perfectly, though their frontman provided much of the entertainment: He was 100% wasted, but may have exaggerated a bit for the sake of the performance, and regardless, was interestingly self-aware about it. He threw the mic stand around constantly while stomping around the stage and writhing about. (For context’s sake, and to avoid any confusion, it might be worth mentioning that he has cerebral palsy, but the inebriation was pretty clear, even if he didn’t admit how drunk he was halfway through.) “This is so stupid,” he mentioned to the crowd. “Any of you could do this. Instead of going home and jerking off on the internet, you can play guitar and start a band. It’s so easy.” It was a genuine moment that worked both as inspiration and cheeky self-deprecation. He also took the time to shout out his friends in defunct locals the Carrier (five times, actually, plus fellow MA hardcore agitators Product of Waste and COA, the latter of whom watched with a grin sidestage). He even overheard someone in the crowd say “I remember my first show...” and promptly mocked him with an imitation. The band was definitely a little spazzy, but they kept it together enough to deliver the songs with enough precision and more than enough energy for a great half-hour set, delivering Peach favorites like “Jealous”, “Dream On” (which detonated the crowd a bit with some sudden stage-rushing love and finger-point sing-alongs), “Turn It Off”, and slightly older cut “Nicotine”, with the occasional stage dive here and there.

Nothing had a pretty good act to follow, though they had their own similarly hazy, wonderful mess to delight the audience. They’re definitely more stripped back, rougher around the edges, and less polished than on record but it provides a new variant on their sound, which was welcomed by all. They were loose (vocalist/guitarist Brandon Setta kept playing Hum licks between songs, I’m pretty sure) and talkative, with other vocalist/guitarist Dominic Palermo (aka Nicky Money) encouraging everyone to two-step for “July the Fourth” and making some obvious though friendly jabs at Deafheaven (“I was thinking about getting some black gloves, a nice button-up, a nice haircut...”), who seemingly now ex-bassist Nick Bassett was once in. They played just under half of their great new album, Tired of Tomorrow (like the seriously excellent and aching, catchy “ACD (Absessive Compulsive Disorder)”), plus a few off their first LP and both songs from their 2014 split with Whirr. They even kicked off their encore with a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” after a short, improvised intraband lesson to make sure everyone actually knew how to play it, and some general lollygagging; it was certainly on the nose, given that Palermo has spoken of early Radiohead as an influence on Tired of Tomorrow, and “Eaten by Worms”, which they played earlier, even sounds specifically influenced by “Creep”. But it was definitely cool and well-done, a song that maintained the fun vibe of the night, and a bunch of folks seemed to appreciate hearing the huge ‘90s hit. After that, someone shouted “Play an old song, c’mon!”, clearly unsatisfied with the concise set only including a couple from 2014’s Guilty of Everything (maybe he wanted something from their first few EPs, even?). The crowd erupted with laughter when Palermo responded, “We’re gonna play a new song now.” But Nothing did actually close with two more off that first album, lead single “Dig” and the fantastically crushing “B&E”, showing just how wonderfully versatile the band can be in contrast to their punk side (cuts like “Bent Nail”, namely) with a soaring, affected crescendo to end it.

Set list (10:45-11:29):

Fever Queen

Vertigo Flowers




July the Fourth


Eaten by Worms


Get Well

ACD (Absessive Compulsive Disorder)

Bent Nail

Encore (11:30-11:51):

Creep [Radiohead cover]