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May 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In the presence of Nothing | Concert preview

Nothing

Nothing, from left: Kyle Kimball, Nick Bassett, Brandon Setta, Domenic Palermo. Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

Nothing’s music video for “Bent Nail” — the second single off its debut, “Guilty of Everything” — dramatizes a familiar scenario for any struggling band.

In the three-minute clip, below, the Philadelphians, who play Barboza Friday, give a spirited performance to a half-empty room of denim-vested, tattooed onlookers, all folded arms and vacant stares.

By the time the song hits its slow, dreamy crescendo, the crowd’s apathy has turned to outright hate, and they begin pelting the foursome with rotten fruit and eggs as they play on.

The video “is to be taken literally,” singer-guitarist Domenic Palermo explains via telephone. “I wanted to try and convey the self-abuse that musicians deal with.”

Nothing are punks at heart. Palermo previously fronted the hardcore outfit Horror Show, while bassist Nick Bassett left his post with Bay Area black-metalers Deafheaven to join the band, which also includes guitarist Brandon Setta and drummer Kyle Kimball.

Their style, however — a shotgun marriage of astral grunge and first-wave shoegaze — is decidedly pretty. It’s loud, sure, but less intrusive than what one might expect from Relapse Records, a label whose current roster features artists called Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Cephalic Carnage and Toxic Holocaust.

When “Guilty” came out on Relapse in March, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen used the unusual band/label pairing as the thesis for a lukewarm writeup.

This didn’t sit well with Palermo, who thinks the critic “just looked at the label and wrote it. There was not one comparison that made sense. I’ve read his reviews for a long time, and he’s usually on-point with his research, so it seemed careless… and [because] we put a lot of work and emotion into this record, it was weak to me that he spent that little time with it.”

One man’s opinion aside, the nine-song LP has generated considerable buzz for an indie guitar album in an electronic dance music age, connecting closest with listeners raised on a similar alternative rock regimen to Palermo — at 30, the band’s self-proclaimed “old head.”

“If it wasn’t for all that early Sub Pop stuff like Nirvana, Green River [and] Mudhoney,” he says, “I probably wouldn’t have ever been in a band.”

The frontman grew up in North Philly’s notorious Kensington neighborhood — also an influence on Nothing’s melancholic sound.

“This city is a pretty dark place. You live on a block, and the next block over there’s crumbling crackhouses. There’s grim things happening all the time… and because everyone’s so close together, it’s hard not to be affected.

“That sense of cynicism is always going to bleed through.”

7 p.m. Friday at Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $8 (206-709-9442 or thebarboza.com)

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: alternative, Philadelphia, shoegaze

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